The strongest attachments come to one without reason or prior warning. A stranger brushes a strand of hair away from her face, and suddenly one feels a pang. A rainy sky goes blue, and one feels like singing hymns. One turns a city corner and finds the landscape of one's past. s Or so, at least, it seemed to me when first I fell under the influence of Japan. I had no reason for being there, other than a brief layover on a flight back from Thailand. I was nowhere more exotic than the area around Narita airport. I had no designs other than whiling away a few hours before my plane left. I took a bus into the little airport town, followed the signs toward a temple, stepped through the gates into a hushed October sunshine filled with schoolchildren, and suddenly fell, as through a trapdoor, into a self I had not known before. s There was nothing out of the ordinary in the scene: just the bright blue quiet of an early autumn day, its silent, sunlit energy almost unbearably freighted with elegy; the startled clarity of the rain-washed air; a familiar grammar of small lanes and corner shops. But it was the ordinary touched with a sense of magic.