I'm in Kameoka.
Blue mountains are around me. It is winter now, and the rice fields do not reflect the sky in the water, but spread far as sections of flat green stripes. It is often sunny and the temperature has not yet dropped below 7 degrees.
I live in a house. He is not that old. He is 90 and his name is Omoya.
The home is traditional, with a tiled roof, tatami in bedrooms, wooden floors in common space and in the kitchen. And for now, some unknown - to me - storage in the attic.
Soft light is streaming out of sliding windows, doors, partly glassed roof above the kitchen, with an imprint of a shadow on the floor of the entrance through the pattern of the entry door.
Omoya gives shelter, and keeps the outer and inner temperature of the air, balanced.
Every morning, warming myself up, I wake up Omoya.
When the soft light arrives at my window, it's time to wake up. Quickly place one foot on the tatami, confirm this action with the other, bare. One and a half of a step, bend down, press the button of the fuel heater with my index finger and hear the sound - there's enough fuel in the tank.
Back in the deep, lingering warmth of the big heavy blanket. Drink some warm herb tea from a small thermos: sip after sip in response to the dry air. The temperature of the air outside starts to give way to the one in my room.
Time to wake up the rest of the house.
Kindle a small flame with a lighter in one and the other heater. Smell the fuel - they are working. Made of iron, painted white, they stand on both sides of a large dark wooden dining table and remind me of stone dragon statues at the entrance to a temple. Pour filtered water into a black, fashionable electronic kettle with a thin arched nose. Go to your room, pushing the door back, getting a stream of warm air in your face.
One wing is warmed up.
Take a towel, bath accessories. Shower.
Enter the shower room and open the faucet. A strong stream of hot water covers the room with steam. Let it brew for a couple of minutes. Leave the warmth of clothes in an adjacent room. And for a fraction of a minute, touch the night air temperature with the entire area of the skin. Now, get in the shower. Do not think about anything. Just be. Now. It is very warm now.
Dry with a towel. Cross the border with your foot and leave the warmth behind. Get dressed without an effort. To me, heated, the cold is pleasant.
Walk past the thin-nosed kettle and notice that a trickle of steam has long been reaching up.
Turn the faucet above the stainless steel kitchen sink down and to the left. Wash the cups left in the evening in hot water and place the pan on the electronic stove. Today is oatmeal.
Slow semicircles and circles with a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan. Steam rises.
Remove the porridge from the pan to a ceramic bowl with an indigo pattern. My favorite color.
Brew tea with cinnamon and cloves. Pour almond milk into the cup, bringing the color to dark beige.
Put a bowl of porridge and a large cup of tea on the dark surface of the table.
Settle in a chair with a leather back next to one of the dragons, cover your knees with a blanket.
Take a look at how the steam from the cup and the bowl blend together and run a single path to the cliff of the dining table.
Wake up, start eating and drinking while it is still hot.
Light gently penetrates the glazed part of the kitchen roof.
The morning is over.
How are you, Omoya? Are you warming up?
I'm in Kameoka.
Blue mountains are around me. Now it rains almost every day. The air is pleasantly humid and reminds of spring.
I live in a house. He is not that old. He is 90 and his name is Omoya.
Omoya lets sounds through. Two white herons are on the river; jerking forward - high, high above the cabbage gardens, green stripes of rice fields, yellow grass - a wedge of black birds settles in Omoya with the sounds of chirping sparrows and is imprinted with mural paintings of their fluttering brothers under the ceiling opposite my bed.
In the morning, when a soft light touches the window, a motorcycle outside starts abruptly as if it were tearing off the ground - it is time for me to get up.
A new house, which is being built next to it, begins to make sounds. It is large, with a tiled roof, consisting of several buildings. Near the construction site there are stones of different sizes, shapes and textures. Many of them are dark, some with white veins. There will be a traditional garden in front of the house. I wonder if the new house will be able to make sounds like Omoya does.
Recorded in the kitchen
Recorded in my bedroom
One part of Kameoka is connected to the other by a walk along the river, through vegetable gardens and rice fields - or one train station from Namikawa to Kameoka for 180 yen. When you walk along the embankment above the river, the bluish mountains blend into the panorama; the train connects its extreme points with a smooth line. My favorite moment is the twilight after the rain: the greens get rid of silly brightness, the mountains are covered with fog, train windows light up. Trains run often, and its sound travels through silence. Omoya regularly passes through their sounds: choo-choo-choo-choo - and connects me with myself 30-40 years ago, when I was little in a town in Ukraine.
There were two important factories in the town: a porcelain factory where dishes were painted with flowers and birds, and a large railway junction through which freight and passenger trains were driven making just a short stop. The house where I lived with my family was not far from the railway line. Every night I fell asleep under the clatter of wheels of passing trains.
Arriving in Haifa in Israel, I strained my ears to catch the sound of a rarely passing train, which, despite the panoramic view from the window, could not be discerned. After some time, I got used to fall asleep without it.
In Omoya, I fall asleep well.
I'm in Kameoka.
Blue mountains are around me. Locals are called kamejin. They say that Kameoka is cold because it lies in a valley between the mountains, so it rains relatively often here and the mountains are covered with fog.
I live in a house. He is not that old. He is 90 and his name is Omoya. Omoya is a kamejin.
The kamejin sometimes look at you with wary, sometimes shower your with local gifts. For some, foreigners are unusual: it is unclear how to fit us into the local landscape, but for some it’s a joyful surprise and an occasion to learn something new.
In the kitchen, two impressive packages of Chinese cabbage, two fat whitish daikons, a meter-long bouquet of leeks and persimmons neatly wrapped in a plastic wrap join the vegetables bought at the supermarket.
- Eat this one right away; it has a delicate taste, and the second one can lie down, its taste has already formed.
Oh yes! How could I forget? Pickles, pickles: slightly tart taste of a salted Chinese cabbage, yellow sweet daikon. Both were cut into equal pieces and eaten with pleasure during a traditional Sunday party, when Omoya is filled with the voices of people speaking English, Japanese, French with cross-pollinating accents.
Kota had just prepared coffee and brought it to me with a freshly salted daikon: it’s already washed, first cut into circles, and then into translucent quarters.
- Help yourself. A sip of good coffee without sugar and milk and a slice of freshly salted daikon are a great combination. Delicacies will always find a common language.
Kota is a young kamejin who works as an assistant of Omoya. Someone would say - a manager, but it seems to me he's assisting the house.
Today, rain pours on the roof all day long, knocks on the windows with gusts of wind and sets them in an uncomfortable position, making them rattle. The sound of a passing train links together the panoramic view of the mountains, gardens and rice fields soaked to the skin.
Kota lit a heater in the hallway and listens to music on headphones. I ask him about his musical preference.
- Jazz and rock. Now more rock.
Kota listens to rock in headphones. He feels that rock for the 90-year-old Omoya is probably too much, and the heat in the hallway is just right.
I listen carefully to the sound of rain; between me and the rain only the walls and the roof of Omoya. Omoya makes sounds almost unhindered. He is hospitable. I am for him an occasion to learn something new.
Coffee and a slice of daikon?
Nothing out of the ordinary.
Singing by Mog Fry, an artist and musician, a fellow art-resident in Omoya.
We sat around a kitchen table during the coldest among all of the 19 nights in Omoya.
I'm in Kameoka.
Blue mountains are around me. After sunset, dense darkness hides rice fields, vegetable gardens, country roads and thickens the blue of the mountains to black. The windows of the houses and lanterns delicately illuminate the road home along the narrow alleys - not filling it with light as metropolises do. In Kameoka, you bypass the central track lit with artificial light by any cost, so as not to confuse your internal rhythm which is slowing down.
Here I am, in the house. He is not that old. He is 90 and his name is Omoya.
Every night I put Omoya to sleep. I have a strict ritual that surrounds me with enough warmth to fall asleep and free Omoya from the obligation to keep the temperature inside higher than outside.
From a warmer common room, where the fire trembles in the windows of two gasoline heaters, push the front door into your dark room, enter, and immediately feel the street cold.
The main thing: turn on the gasoline heater. By the touch. With a sharp movement, expose the whiteness of the sheet, pushing back the heavy duvet, and allow the warm air of the heater to spread across its entire surface. Slide the doors, follow to the wooden floor and sharply draw them together.
Go into the kitchen and pour water into a black, fashionable electronic kettle with a thin curved nose. Press the button and listen to an affirmative sound in complete silence. Stand in the kitchen in the darkness surrounding the house, and then hear the sounds of an electric train crashing into silence mixing with the boil of a kettle. Gently pour boiling water from a thin nose into the wide throat of a heating pad.
Recorded in the kitchen during thunderstorm
On the way to your room, bend down and extinguish the flickering of the flames first in one, then in another heater.
With your right hand, reach the three switches on the wall and, with one motion of the fourth, third and second finger, play a passage that plunges the entire Omoya's common zone into darkness. Take a few more steps in the dark from memory, open the door to your room with one hand, step on the tatami, feel the heat, slide the door. Put a heating pad on the bottom of the bed and - with a sudden movement - cover the entire surface of the warmed sheet with a blanket.
Turn off the heater, take off your clothes, dive deep into the blankets, feel your feet on its hard and hot surface.
Lying in bed, listen to its warmth. Before your eyes are the flying sparrows from the painting on the ceiling. I remember the other sparrows on the coinage in my grandmother's house. All my childhood, this coinage hung in the doorway of the common room. I remember it for as long as I remember myself. They told me that when I was rocked as a baby, I started to cry when the stroller moved in the direction of the hanging birds. My grandmother realized that it seemed to me that the birds were flying right at me. They began to rock me with my back to sparrows, and I stopped crying.
I very vividly remember this episode - the power of a reliably told story. This coinage hangs now in my mother’s house in Israel, and a new round of memories in Omoya seems logical to me. First memories are with us forever.
Over my head, under the ceiling I see closed boxes with a symbol of the Tanaka family home. Great-grandfather of the current owner of the house - Eiko Tanaka - built Omoya and other utility rooms adjacent to the house 90 years ago. At that time the boxes under the ceiling were a repository for paper lanterns that lit the way home to Omoya.
Now dilapidated and fragile flashlights are stored above my head and illuminate the path to my intangible home.
The external and internal air temperatures come into equilibrium. Omoya exhales and falls into a dream.
Nineteen times I put Omoya to sleep and nineteen time woke it up. Thank you, Omoya, for the close connection.
I am in Yokohama: in the house where I've lived for 12 years, in Japan where I've lived for 19.
We were all born somewhere, we all live somewhere now. My idea of the house formed between these points in time. It includes childhood memories, ideas about what an ideal home could be like, and dreams about it.
The migratory paths of dreams pass everywhere and settle where fragments of my intangible home meet - it is worth hearing a sound from childhood, smelling a long forgotten smell, seeing an object reminiscent of the one that I always knew ...
Omoya - the canonical house: a triangular roof on top, a rectangle on the bottom. It looks like the first drawing of a house that every child draws. Under the triangular roof of Omoya, I assembled an intangible home from my dreams and memories. I filmed only those fragments of the house with which I had personal contact. If they had come to life, they might have remembered me.
I recorded the experience of "being in space" - its an algorithm. The cold helped me understand what sequence of movements my morning and evening routine consists of, and I am very grateful to it for this. The realization of a clear sequence of actions that kept me warm and filled the space with life determined my relationship with the Omoya house and literally located my “I” in Kameoka.