Intercultural Communication Center (ICC)Waseda University

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Participant Report: Genesis of “From the balcony on the fourth floor”

Nicole Caprioli
Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies

I was told about the ICC Online Writing Contest ”Japan in Me by a friend who encouraged me to enterAfter reading the contest’s guidelines, I started wondering about what to talk about and share with everyone. As I was thinking about “Japan in Me,” I recalled my past travels and experiences here in Japan: the places I went, the things I’ve seen, eaten, etc. Among those memories, my trip to Teshima and Naoshima islands was one of the most vivid, in particular the visit to the Teshima Art Museum.  

The poem I wrote for the contest takes its inspiration from one I had written while I was inside the Teshima Art Museum two years ago.  Although both poems share the same question, “From the balcony on the fourth floor” goes much deeper into it, trying to provide a possible answer. It also conveys, to some extent, a sense of loneliness and the feeling of being lost. I believe these emotions might be shared by many readers as one of the consequences of the outbreak of the coronavirus, which strongly affected and marked our lives in various ways. 

The main question behind the poem is: where do we belong to?  

Mishima Yukio, in the epilogue of his book Sun and Steel, wrote a poem, “Icarus,” where I believe he addressed the same question. Personally, I couldn’t find any answer in it. Mishima’s beautiful words left me wondering whether, in the end, I belonged to the earth or to the sky. When I was inside the Teshima museum, I found my own answer. 

I hope that by reading the poem, the reader may empathize with it and try to find his or her own answer while listening to his or her emotions. 

I am really glad to have had the opportunity to share my thoughts with everyone.  

Photo by Nicole Caprioli

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