Stadiums & Shrines


The Ryokan was fairly unassuming from the outside—a slate archway wrapped over a small garden, aged and dimly lit in comparison to the larger, flashier villas on each side. But it had come recommended: “the best views in all the land,” promised an elderly man. The phrase cycled through his head, growing louder and more perplexing as he toured the quaint one-story inn. Every window faced out onto another dwelling. He could find no view to complement what the man had said. Nonetheless, there was a warmth here and he welcomed it, as he was far from home now. He knew not what had brought him back to the town of his youth, but he trusted the tailwinds.

“This is fine, thank you.”

He entered the room and within seconds had dropped his bags in awe. Each wall was framed in perfect symmetry by paintings, which breathed richly into the natural light, infusing the air’s dust with a spectrum of color.

On the wall to his left, a rice field; the lavenders striking an odd iridescence with his every step. To his right, a snow-capped mountain range, so well defined he almost believed it to be coated in frost. And straight ahead, a pond bridged by stones, just like the ones he leapt across as a boy.

This was Japan as he remembered it, inviting him in. With little hesitation, he stepped onto the closest pebble, then to the next one, and then the next one…


Dustin Wong is an accomplished dreamer, having applied his infinite guitar virtuosity to a handful of interpreted dreams (including one of my own) just a few months ago—a project which in part inspired this one. As did his latest LP, Dreams Say, Create, View, Shadow Leads, out now on Thrill Jockey.

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