Posted by Will Ooi | Posted in Japan | Tags: Adventures, Other Reviews | Posted on 01-12-2008-05-2008
She was the one in white
We were on the bus to the stadium to see Yokohama FC vs Vegalta Sendai in J-League Division 2 on a Saturday afternoon. I was sitting down towards the back, on the right side. Unlike the buses in Kyoto, the Yokohama buses give passengers entry from the front much like the ones back home. I kind of liked the backwards Kyoto buses though.
Eugene offered his aisle seat to an older lady and got up, clutching onto the bus handles as more passengers got on as I stared out from the window side. Having been in Tokyo for three days prior, Yokohama was a nice change of pace. Less busy and less commuters in a rush, although by Sydney standards still bustling. Our morning had consisted of going round the city trying to locate the bus terminal which the officers at the Police Box next to the train station had kindly directed us to in order to get to the stadium. Once we had found it and agreed on a time to come back, we went walkabout. A long underground tunnel connected the train station to a massive department store, “Sogo”.
It took ages for us to be able to just exit Sogo, which was something like 10 floors. And out we came, seeing the tall white apartment and corporate skyscrapers and man-made rivers, the whole place seemingly taken right out of one’s image of 80′s Miami…or something from GTA: Vice City, even: people of all ages clutching their shopping bags, expensive designer clothes and boutique stores lining our vision, the hot sun reflecting off the water and leaving a bright white sheen on the surface. It all looked brand new, only just a few years old even. Yokohama Marinos Football Club training ground across the river (the bigger of the two Yokohama teams; the Man Utd to Yokohama FC’s Man City if you will), filled with a distant crowd parking their cars, unfurling their banners. A “Y Cat” tourist speedboat access next to the McDonald’s we stopped at, looking for a map. We weren’t interested in a generic cruise around this place: too touristy. The map showed us where our destination was…all across the other end of the city. Having had our fill of American-styled architecture/surrealism, it was time to head back to get our bus.
Looking out the window and being amused by an innocently-inappropriate sign for a tanning salon, named “Blacky”, my attention flicked back and forth to the passengers inside the bus and the everyday weekend life going on outside: Eugene still grasping his handle looking out the other side amidst a whole range of different Yokohama folk packing into our ride, me seeing young women walk their miniature dogs down footpaths as cars and cyclists zoomed around. There were plenty of those in Japan, the small dogs and the bicycles.
Then on she came…I noticed her almost immediately as the bus stopped to pick up more passengers. Dressed in a white top, her lengthy straight hair complementing her long face, a short fringe cropped to reveal her forehead and curved eyebrows. She had dark eyeshadow on, my memory telling me it was purple but I can’t be sure now. By now the back of the bus was full with standing commuters and so she stopped near the back door a few metres away from Eugene (albeit with 2 or 3 people between the two of them), placed her bags down, grabbed onto a handle, and looked out the same right side of the bus as me. At this point there could’ve been fireworks outside for all I knew but all my attention was fixed on her and yet I dared not let her catch me looking. It was like being back in high school all over again.
And so I pretended to face outside, my eyes open but not taking in a single thing; not animals, not bikes, nothing. By now my mind had overriden my vision, telling me to turn my head towards her. Just one more look. She would tilt her face over in my direction at intermittent moments, every time increasing my heart rate. It was ridiculous. But I just could not stop staring.
Hers was the perfect face. Perfect nose and face shape, both the profile and front on. Pure beauty, making me re-assess my claim that I am not even attracted by Asian women. She looked maybe 20, possibly a little younger, as I tried to signal to Eugene to turn around. To see what I’d seen. My head making gestures to look “that way!”, behind and to the right. Other people’s heads in the way from his position, obscuring his view. Damn it. So I took out my camera.
Aiming it aimlessly outside at insignificance as a front, trying to tilt it to find the right angle while not raising the camera too high to make it that obvious. My seat was too low, the people sitting in front of me getting in the way. It needed to be held at head height. As she looked over towards me again, down went the camera instantly: a reflex reaction. What a missed opportunity! I felt like such a pervert.
Giving it another try, this time raising the Canon Powershot up a little more, still playing the role of country bumpkin tourist who’s never seen the inside of a bus before. There was no way I could get a decent shot in that far-too-fleeting time period in which she would actually be facing me, beginning to fear that this whole bus moment would come to an end soon. So on went the ‘movie’ setting of the camera. Awkward low angle, still. Click. Recording.
She didn’t turn her face at all during this time. And then we reached our stop. Ah yes! The football game, that’s right!
She got off too. I was hoping she was going to the match, but instead she stopped to meet a group of friends just behind the bus stop. Eugene and I walked a little further down. I stopped filming.
“Wow, man. Take a look at that girl over there. She’s gorgeous,” or something to that degree, I told him hurriedly in the manner of an over-excited child. After a fair bit of head repositioning over the swarm of bus exiters, he saw her too, although mainly from the side. Then a quick glance of her face, front on. “Ah okay,” came his reply, approvingly, but with a small smile slowly materialising and with much less enthusiasm than I was displaying – to each his own, I guess. He sat down, and I knew what he meant. A bit more time. Maybe not to talk to her, but maybe for a photo. Because surely, surely, I couldn’t just go up to her to tell her how beautiful she was. That’s far too much phrasebook-page-flicking in such a short space of time, in a different culture, in a different country. So up I went again, camera switched back to default mode, pretending to take shots of our surroundings. Nothing much to see, just a bridge overpassing the stopped bus, some buildings to the right, the stadium behind us. No more white skyscrapers or man-made rivers, it was all grey concrete on this side of Yokohama. Aiming the Canon towards her general direction as she got up to leave with her friends (they weren’t going to the game), I managed to get one shot. Just the one. It’s not even of her face, but it’ll have to do.
So maybe it was perversion, yes I can easily see that, but I’d like to think I was trying to capture an image of beauty at its purist. Ultimately it was unsuccessful, but her face still resonates within me, even now. Probably a good thing: I had just seen the most beautiful Japanese girl I will ever see, and it will always remain that way. On the way to a division 2 soccer match* as well, of all places. A completely unobtainable, once in a lifetime anomaly, forever to be known as The Girl From Yokohama.
*The game finished, rather appropriately, as a draw. 2-2.