Andrew Thompson's Japan Residency Blog: 1

News 19 Feb 2020

We are proud to be part of British Council Scotland and Creative Scotland's UK/Japan Season of Culture 2019-2020. As part of this, Morna Young and Andrew Thompson - two Scottish playwrights - will undertake residencies in Japan. Through their time in Japan they'll explore the intercultural similarities and differences between Scottish/Japanese language, culture and landscape, to inform the creation of new works for the stage.

Winner of The Stage's Debut Award for best writer, Andrew Thompson is an Edinburgh-based actor and writer for stage and screen. His play In Event of Moone Disaster won the Theatre503 International Playwriting Award 2016 and was staged at the theatre in October 2017. Andrew's work has been staged in Newcastle, Sheffield, London and Edinburgh and his comedy script Spear Carriers is currently under option at Hartswood Films.

In his first blog, we join Andrew on a bullet train, embarking on his journey across Japan as he muses on place and power...

Behind a row of houses, Mount Fuji is just visible on the horizon.

The one word that stands out as we bullet through to Fukushima is ‘power’. The power of the Shinkansen train. The power of the Daiichi nuclear disaster I’m on my way to learn more about. The power of water and the tsunami that caused it all, but also power in a daily sense. From the outskirts of Tokyo onwards the skyline is littered with towers and cables. Every few feet another mast is placed, one outside each house. Thousands of them compressed into square metres and square miles. Wires draped like spiderwebs or fishing nets across the rooftops of whole towns and villages, encasing them. It’s unquestionable, Japan is electric.

A narrow alley of shop fronts. There are red paper lanterns hanging hanging from the pipework overhead.from the
A pavement extends into the distance where there are many neon lit buildings at night.

Nine years ago 13,000 people were evacuated from Odaka alone. As of now only three thousand intend to return. The energy created at the Fukushima plant wasn’t for the local people. It was for Tokyo. As a gesture of recognition for the area and its suffering the Olympic torch will begin its national tour here. Though of course it, like everything else, will eventually make its way to Tokyo.

View of a figure who is wearing a mask that overs their nose and mouth, who is reading a newspaper, through a car window.
Andrew (a tall, bearded, dark haired man) stands next to a plastic figurine of video game character Mario that is as tall as he is.

The conductor enters our carriage for inspection and bows from the doorway to all the passengers. Even when he passes back through and leaves he turns and bows once more to everyone as the door closes. He is the conductor. We have the power.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, is asleep on this train except me.

This residency is supported by the British Council Scotland and Creative Scotland partnership to take part in the British Council’s UK in Japan Season 2019-20. This project is additionally made possible through support from The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.