You’re Beautiful: the story of a novel, part three


So this is the actual beach bar, near Tokyo, on which the beach bar in my Bath Novel Award shortlisted novel You’re Beautiful is based. It was surprising, hunting back through all my old photos (this one dates from 2009) to see that during the several years of drafting and redrafting the novel, the fictional beach bar I described on the page kept its fundamental resemblance to the real beach bar that inspired it. The white plastic chairs and tables. The bamboo awning. Wooded hills silhouetted against the sky. When I reread the novel and the action moves to the beach, the scenario above is exactly what I see in my mind’s eye.

If there was an audio file with this photo you would probably hear reggae music playing in the background. For some reason the Japanese only seem to listen to reggae in the summer, never the winter, and it is only in summer that you will see the dreadlocked, hemp-clothed Japanese Rastafarian, especially if you’re at the beach. I have no idea where they go in the winter. Google tells me that “a small but devoted Rasta community developed in Japan in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” so I am sure there are genuine Japanese Rastafarians out there, but there are definitely those for whom the look is nothing more than a summer fashion fad. I had a bit of fun adding a handful of Japanese beach hippies to the crowd that hangs out at my ill-fated (yes—this is a teaser) fictional beach bar.

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