Who better to guide us through our downtime than Kunichi Nomura, the host of weekly Tokyo radio programme ‘Travelling Without Moving’?
What’s the theme of your radio show?
“Travelling Without Moving” is the title of a chillout song from the 1990s. It’s a long track with samples of rainy forests and children’s laughter; if you listen to it with your eyes closed, it transports you. Travelling is not just physically going somewhere – it’s also a state of mind. Many of my friends told me that they feel blue on Sundays because it’s the end of the weekend. When J-Wave asked me to do a show on a Sunday evening, I thought it would be nice to talk about travel stories and play slow, mellow jams. I just wanted to show that in one hour, you can still travel mentally. I started in 2014 and now it’s my sixth year. The theme is so relevant now. We can’t travel – but we can go anywhere in our heads.
Any strange requests from listeners?
One person asked for me to play the Japan Airlines theme tune. Another listener wrote a letter about his lost love and requested his most romantic song from that time: “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. One 80-year-old lady told me that she listens to the show every week in her nursing home. “You played one of the most beautiful piano songs last week so I ordered the album online,” she wrote. “It’s the first time in years I’ve bought a CD and I can’t wait to listen to it.” The song was “Avril 14th” by Aphex Twin.
How has coronavirus changed your life?
I’m not a person who spends a lot of time at home reading books or chilling. I’ve always loved going to new places and meeting new people; I spent a few years backpacking before I started working. Business trips are shorter but I still love them. For the past two decades, I’ve gone abroad every month for magazine stories, business meetings, [fashion] shows and holidays. I’m dreaming of travelling: anywhere but here. I want to go somewhere with a lot of people on the street and a fun vibe; New York or Paris – wherever – and drink all night with friends. I don’t know when or how it will be possible but I can’t wait to be in the airport hearing those announcement calls in front of the gate.
Any recommendations for readers?
So many! Brian Eno’s Music for Airports or Everybody Digs Bill Evans by Bill Evans. This is the time to watch a long film: the director’s cut of Once Upon A Time In America or Betty Blue. Read Islands in the Stream or A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald. Or reread Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis and remember your youth – it’s so different reading it now; I love it.
Do you think that this pandemic will change the way people work in the future?
I work a lot with magazines here in Japan. They aren’t fully digitalized – although they’ve been talking about it – but now they have to do it or die. It’s the same with retail. The transitions we normally make slowly have to be done really quickly now. Personally, I can’t do remote work. I can write at home but I also need to spend a decent amount of time at a bar or a club and talking to friends. I won’t change: I’ll keep on travelling no matter what. I only have one life and I have to enjoy every single moment. Everything I love and care about is in the world outside.
About the interviewee: Tokyo-based Nomura is a writer, DJ and occasional actor. He appeared in Lost in Translation and co-wrote Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs.