Japantown StoryWalks

By Kimberly Powell

The StoryWalks project continues in San Jose Japantown. The questions that continue to frame this project are: How does storying walk? And, How does walking story? How is Walking as an Artful Trajectory of Thinking-in-Movement? The July walks took place primarily with artist-activists and illuminated a different sense of borders, territory, limits and neighborhood identity than prior StoryWalks. Storwalking with a young life-long, biracial Japanese American artist revealed literal and figurative signs (some of which she had created as a local artist), suggestive of multiethnic and multigenerational palimpsests to be read. A Latino American artist and gallery owner gave a tour of his gallery and public street murals that he has helped fund and/or create, illuminating in the process the transitional, temporary, and environmentally dependent nature of the materials and media. Walking with story has now become a refrain, a vector of rhythmic regularity and expressive possibility. It is at once an established habit – a walk to work, to the grocery store, to the local tofu shop, to meet up with friends at Roy’s Station cafe—that is also subject to a break in habit. In my case, the expressive possibility – that moment when walking becomes something else—appears to occur through the simple question of asking someone to give me a tour. In fact, the storywalks underscore the sensorial, affective qualities of knowledge-in-the making, and of citizenship-in-the-making as well.