Tokyo Stories from Curious Outsiders

018 : Momus (aka Nick Currie) on the Nakano station platform, Nakano-ku
Born 1960 in the UK, Momus (aka Nick Currie) currently works as a Secular missionary in secondhand Missoni He came to Japan on a Tourist or entertainer visa. Why Japan? Ask his shrink! He digs the following Tokyo bits: socialism, communism, collectivism, small businesses and mega-turbo-capitalism. He, however, is a touch miffed by expats, DJs, banking, panel discussions and noise pollution. For more info on Momus (aka Nick Currie) you should send an email or visit Click opera.

image: MaZzuk

“In my dreamy state, oblivious to signs and announcements I often boarded the wrong train.”

I had a lover in Nishi-Ogi—stick-thin, elegant, and somewhat eccentric. She spoke no English and I spoke no Japanese.

My lover lived alone with a cat in what I came to call “the white room”. She had eclectic taste in music; she introduced me to Miharu Koshi[1] and “Coincidental Music” by Haruomi Hosono[2]. When we weren’t lying together, stick-thin and pale in the white room, she was taking me to places up and down the Chuo Line: hidden fish restaurants, sentos and piano bars in Nishi-Ogi, secondhand record shops and musical cafes in Koenji, and Inokashira Park[3] in Kichijoji, which is like Prospero’s Island in The Tempest: “full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments…”

Switching from the Yamanote to the Chuo line at Shinjuku, I’d immediately began to feel lighter and happier, knowing the white room was getting closer, and beyond it all the joys of that part of Western Tokyo—student bookshops, pungent timberyards after warm rain, radical cinemas and izakayas growing lively at dusk. In my dreamy state, oblivious to signs and announcements (and unable to understand them anyway) I often boarded the wrong train, the one that reverses at Nakano and heads back east into the city.

Delayed on my way to the white room, gazing across at the odd little Nakano fashion stores with their shabby signs, so close to the skyscrapers of Shinjuku yet so pleasantly provincial and neglected, thinking of my pale, stick-thin lover just three stations up the tracks, drying her hair after her shower, I came up with the idea of “disorienteering”; the thought that it can be a joy to be dizzied, disoriented or diverted on your way to some reward.

Like power running through overhead cables, the pleasure generated in the white room seemed to electrify the Chuo line from Shinjuku to Mitaka. Being lost, anywhere there, wasn’t being lost for long. Another train would soon come.

referenced works

  1. Miharu Koshi
  2. "Coincidental Music" is a selection of soundtrack music by Haruomi Hosono, best known as a member of YMO, Japan's quintessential electropop band, now defunct.
  3. Inokashira Park features a temple dedicated to Benzaiten, the sole female among the Seven Lucky Gods of Japan. Benzaiten temples often appear near water, she is known as the godess of all that flows.

location information

  • Name: Nakano station platform
  • Address: 三鷹市下連雀3丁目
  • Time of story: early morning
  • Latitude: 35.705541
  • Longitude: 139.6661
  • Map: Google Maps


  1. Joseph [1] in US of A thinks: Quite possibly the perfect hitotoki.

019She laughed at my effort and responded in English, ‘Long time, no seduction.’ — Qi Rari

018In my dreamy state, oblivious to signs and announcements I often boarded the wrong train.— Momus (aka Nick Currie)

017I was fifteen years old and it was one of those nights.— Yuko Enomoto

016That ear of corn just wanted to go home— Guttersnipe Das

015With his painstakingly coiffured mane blowing in the wind— Digits Wolfowitz

014Her voice, even across languages, betraying her worry.— Olly Denton

013I saw them drawing bamboo sticks from a silver rectangular box.— Daphné Haour

012A simulacrum of someone else's home, equal parts comfort and loss.— Adam Greenfield

011Jumbled Escheresque insanity where geo­graphy in any traditional sense ceases to exist.— Joseph Badtke-Berkow

010I could hardly make out anything apart from his glowing eyes...— Uleshka

009Shibuya was like a stroke.— Alice.d

008I cried for a while and wiped the dead bracken off my karate pants.— David Cady

007Both my tie and my disposition hang limp as I calculate the remaining distance to the station.— Chris Tobber

006I once read about a Chinese maiden whose feet were unbound by a cruel man …— Claire Tanaka

005The Bad Girl strutted off and I was left with a ham egg pie.— Guttersnipe Das

004I arrived expecting an irritated Japanese person to step out of the crowd and identify himself as Hideki.— Ashley Rawlings

003The woman at the ticket window seemed surprised to see another human being. I was the only visitor.— Andrew Douglas

002Flanked on either side by adult manga shops and the like, the smell of yakitori in the air.— Jean Snow

001For two weeks the day began with this morning walk, our shared routine.— Joseph Squier


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