A few days ago I cycled to the sea and painted the sunset.
It was very cloudy and I didn’t know whether it would be a spectacularly colorful sunset or a dull one. It ended up being a combination of both.
There was some warm orange sunlight but it was soft and understated and accompanied by a lot of dull gray clouds. It was, though, very beautiful.
I added the boat to give a focal point and to give a feeling of epic size. Yet in actuality, I saw no boats or ships on that particular day.
After finishing this painting and on my return journey home, via my bicycle, it was a relief to discover that there are still strange river folk around.
On this occasion, it was an old man with his wife. He was wearing a bright shiny white tracksuit with a fluorescent lime-green band positioned diagonally across his back.
He was facing the river in a very dramatic manner and holding out in front of him a device that was playing enka music (traditional Japanese music) and singing along to it with complete abandon.
He had a beautiful voice. But as I was passing he stopped then hawked very loudly and spat. This spoiled the romance of the moment for me.
And, yet, the whole thing was simultaneously comical and entertaining.
There is a great deal of public hawking and spitting in Japan. The hawking is so loud that you can hear them in their houses in the morning doing it.
It’s not something you’d expect from a culture that is supposed to be quite reserved. I only saw some young people behave like that in England. They thought it was impressive, but it wasn’t the thing most people did in England. So now I’m curious about what it’s like in other countries.
This story was originally written in June of 2014. I am editing it in 2022.