Meeting Spot

When I was a college student in Tokyo, I had a friend whom I’d meet up with in Ikebukuro, a neighbourhood in the northwest of Metropolitan Tokyo not too far from Shinjuku. We always met there because not only the place was accessible from both our places by just one train, several department stores were attached to the train station with many options of restaurants and cafes. There was always a new place to explore, and we could hang out until the last moment we needed to catch our trains.

Our meeting spot was on the ground floor of one of the department stores. There was an open space with a large screen, which wasn’t officially a meeting spot but many people used to wait for somebody. My friend would simply call it “The Screen.”

“See you at The Screen!”

That was usually the last text message we exchanged before our meetup.

Whenever I arrived first, I’d squeeze myself into the line of people standing by the wall facing the large screen. I’d then look up at the screen to see what’s on.

The large screen always showed a documentary clip of a traditional craftsman or craftswoman working on their craft. Sometimes, it was a traditional clothing. Other times, it was a piece of traditional wooden furniture. No sound came from the screen, but there was a subtitle we could follow to learn about the process.

The clip wasn’t a most exciting thing to watch, especially given the context of the busy Metropolitan Tokyo. But nonetheless, my eyes eagerly followed what was happening on the screen, and before long, I was so absorbed in the craftsman’s and craftswoman’s work that I’d lose track of my surroundings. Only the sense of peace enveloping the place reached me until I heard the sound of my name being called and my friend stood next to me.

As we together left the place and stepped back into the busy bustling night of Ikebukuro to start our evening adventure, a tiny part of me already missed the peaceful oasis of The Screen.