So, this is where I live

It is almost a year ago now that I began preparing my application to the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for the residency in Tokyo. Even though I had been warned by several of the previous recipients of this grant, nothing could prepare me for the building I live in – Roppongi Hills Residence B, nor the opulence of the area. It is nothing like the residency in Paris where we lived like little artist-bees in a giant hive and every night the homeless slept on the front walkway.  Roppongi Hills Residence feels more like a hotel than an apartment building and it is a very odd place to put a visual artist. It would probably work better for a writer or someone very organized and tidy. There is really no where here that I can make a mess – white carpets, white wallpaper and too many odd pieces of furniture taking up room.

What I will find hard to part with when I leave is the swimming pool. I have to pay for a gym membership and it’s not cheap, but the pool, jacuzzi, sauna and cold bath afterwards are pretty close to divine. I don’t know what kind of system they use for treating the water in the pool, but it is like silk. No smelly chlorine sticking to your skin for the rest of the day afterwards. And when there are three people in the pool, they put up a sign saying,  Busy Now, meaning that maybe you’ll have to wait a bit, they won’t allow more than 3 in the pool at one time, even though there are 4 lanes and it’s quite a long pool. But I’ve never had to wait. I think of the Y pool on Parc ave. where we fight for air, there are so many of us sometimes in one lane!

In the change rooms, all clothes must come off and only towels and dressing gowns are allowed. So, naked in the jacuzzi, I have just enough fat on me that I float to the surface and roll like a log while the water jets gently massage my entire body. Follow this with a quick dip in the giant cold bath, then to the sauna and a special obligatory shower that sprays from all directions  to make sure all the sweat is washed away before returning to the cold bath. All towels and dressing gowns (and work -out clothes) are supplied, along with everything you could ever want for taking care of your body: face cleaners, creamers, body milks and toothpaste along with throw away tooth brushes, plastic hairbrushes, q-tips, hair elastics and bathing caps, each individually wrapped in plastic. Never have my feet been so well cared for, nor my skin so well buttered!

The ending is the best. I am clean and warm and calm and I hand my key back to the two beautiful young people at the spa reception. They bow and say, Arigatou gozaimasu and I bow and say, Domo. Then I press the button for the elevator (I’ve yet to locate any stairs to the spa), I step inside and as I stand there looking at these beautiful people, waiting for the doors to close, they bow again and say Dewa mata and I bow and say nothing, but I can feel my whole body is smiling. Here is a video introduction to my place!

Residency Apartment Roppongi Hills, Tokyo