Tokyo: Neon & Six Dimension
November 15, 2019
Today, my plan is to visit Rokujigen, a jazz cafe well-known for its curation of Haruki Murakami’s books. I leave the hotel late afternoon and take a JR Chuo-Sobu Line to reach Ogikubo Station in Suginami City. I passed over 15 stations before finally arrive then take a walk in a small road beside the station filled with amusement shops and restaurants. The cafe’s location is slightly hidden, it’s above stores named Sun Marine and Ran Ran Flower Shop. As I ascend to the cafe through the stairs from the side of the shop, the atmosphere started rendering into old vibes. The entry is a wooden door with half slit type which shows vaguely inside part. The creaking sound emerges from the door which gives an impression of a haunted house. The shop owner Kunio-san, later introduce himself welcomed me from a small bar. I order a cup of coffee while watching around. This bar immediately reminds me of Nezumi and his childhood friend from Hear The Wind Sing of Murakami’s — the scene of summer night they spend in Jay’s Bar sit side by side on the counter while listening to Nezumi’s grumbles of his hatred of the rich and being born into a rich family. I like the dim ambiance and the layout given by the woods that surround the room, it’s suitable for the jazz music, it arouses conversation and bonds with others. In the middle of the room, some tables made of joined thick wooden blocks neatly arranged, someone reading a book while enjoying the beverage, a track from Louis Amstrong is on playing. An antique clock ticking tenderly, the remnants of afternoon light passed through the slit, some art deco lamps protrude from the ceiling, Japanese kanji stuck on the top of the wall, ubiquitous small decoration objects and stack of books from floor-to-ceiling on the shelves. I scrutinize the books on the shelves and find various books from comics to literature; especially a collection of Haruki Murakami translations from around the world.
I have a conversation with Kunio-san, he tells me that I’m quite lucky since this cafe sometimes disappears from reality which means it’s only open in occasional and unexpected time. I say ‘I come here in unexpected time too’ that’s why it negates the bad luck. His jazz bar is actually a place he established based on the depiction of jazz cafe in some of Murakami’s stories. Rokujigen literally means ‘Six-Dimension’ as ‘Roku’ means six and ‘Jigen’ means dimension. He points out a plaque of simple addition and multiplication, on it is written (1+2+3=6) (1x2x3=6). ‘magic numbers’ he says. People who study number theory might call it ‘perfect number’, a positive integer which equals to the sum of its divisor, I can’t recall if there are any other sets of positive numbers which corresponding for both operators like this. It is really a magic number. Further, he explains that Haruki Murakami actually had his first jazz bar named ‘Peter Cat’ in Kokubunji area before it’s moved to Sendagaya and permanently closed after. Apart from its main function as bookstore Rokugen is functioned as a gallery of Japanese traditional handcraft. He also hosts regular monthly reading events about literature; reminds me of POST Santa, an independent bookstore in Jakarta which held the same events.
After leaving Rokujigen I take away back to downtown. I stop by in a building full of arcade games and visitors with lightning fingers knock the buttons repeatedly and reflexively without being aware of their surroundings. I play a quite few games then move forward to the next building full of Pachinko, a gambling mechanical machine. There is 18 years old restriction for the game. The room is really noisy with the sound of iron balls popping and snapping interlaced from all sides. There is almost no sound of players nagging. The players are mostly salarymen and middle-aged men. For every 500 yen deposit, there are 125 balls in return. I watch a salaryman in front of me, he enjoys every punch on the lever while smoked his cigarette. These Japanese, are really born into the game.
These days our knowledge bases and thoughts lie in front of inch by inch of flat surface filled with pixels. We made a reality inside a virtual reality. We try so hard to alter and upgrade our progenitor psychology from time to time. Japan has been in the future but I can perceive a glance of gloom from its society. The hollow face on the street, shops, park, and train, they stare into shadow inside their head, more like humans on auto mode. Somehow it’s just so vivid. Sometimes I question myself of something I couldn’t see. That’s why this place isn’t called heaven, isn’t it? The good and evil camouflage all over places. We are people, everywhere, have it all in our hearts.