Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"SS-Okuno - June 2010"

While I've never actually traveled internationally by ship, I've wandered around the Hikawa-maru (built in 1929, launched in 1930) passenger liner - now permanently moored in Yokohama as a museum, and imagined how it must have felt to spend a week crossing the Pacific Ocean, as opposed to half a day in an airplane.

It was probably wonderful and awful - wonderful if you were enjoying the trip, and awful if you just wanted to be where you were going and were stuck waiting.

Not having ever made such a journey myself, naturally I imagine traveling either in first class or second class, eating good meals in a fancy dining room, visiting the lounge, the library, etc.  (Probably 3rd class wasn't so much fun!)

Part of the experience of traveling is making temporary friends with fellow travelers... and this brings me to my ten-day "voyage" on the SS-Okuno (real name Okuno Building, formerly Ginza Apartment[s]).
The Okuno Building was built (1934) in the same era as the Hikawa-maru, and with its steam heat, boiler room in the basement, lounge on the sixth floor, and rooms basically about the same size as a ship's cabins, there are a lot of parallels.  Add in the building's current use, with many art galleries, each displaying art by living authors for (usually) one week at a time (sometimes less, sometimes more), the experience of the artists who spend their days in the small galleries meeting visitors and talking about their art - is similar in a way to people spending a week in a ship, taking a journey across  the Pacific together.

And like a ship continuing on to another port in the same country after most of the passengers have gotten off at one port - by being there for ten days, I met two different groups of fellow "passengers".  During slow periods of the day, we would visit each others "cabins" and talk, etc.  Friends for the week, and then likely to never again meet....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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