Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter 14

How do you feel in a tent?

How do I feel? I ask myself. Let me see.

Well, I’m healthy. I don’t have a cold. I have no flu, no aches or pains. My arms and legs are fine. And so is my back.

I can relax.

It’s fine weather. The day is warm—not hot, not cold—just pleasant. There’s no wind. The air smells clean. And I am happy. Isn’t this nice? In an hour, only two cars pass me by.

Now and then, I catch Mami up, when she stops her bicycle to wait for me. Sometimes the TV crew is waiting to film me walk by. The afternoon passes.

At five p.m., after traveling 7km, we decide to stop for the day on a nice patch of grass. We unpack and then set up our tent. It is orange, and small. This is the first time for us to use it together.

The TV crew is surprised. “Are you stopping so soon? But you have so far to travel!” They thought that we would try to do more. However, it’s important not to do too much on the first day. You need to listen to your body. You need to follow the sun. You need to keep your motivation high, and to camp at a good place when you find one.

When it gets dark, our friends leave. They have filmed us enough for today. They will come back in a few days to film some more. Mami and I wave them off, squeeze into the tent, and zip it shut.

[258 words]

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chapter 13

Today, we begin our trip at last. In the morning, the TV crew arrives at the door. They help to put our luggage inside their van, and then we set off.

Soon, we get on the motorway. The speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour, but we travel at 120. Still, cars overtake us.

Alongside, there are forests, biwa orchards, flower beds and newly-planted rice fields. The road signs warn drivers to watch out for deer, badgers and monkeys. The camera man tells us to be careful of snakes.

We go through a tunnel that is six kilometres long. How common are such tunnels? Are they difficult to walk through? We come out the other end, and there’s Sakurajima island, a volcano in the middle of the sea.

The drive takes us three and a half hours. At the end there is a toll road. You need to pay to use it. Finally, there is a walkway that also costs money to use. It takes us another 15 minutes to reach the lighthouse.

We return from the lighthouse to the van. It’s three o’clock. We could put up our tent and camp here, if we wanted. Instead, we take out our luggage, Mami’s bicycle, and bicycle trailer. We prepare to walk a few more kilometres.

“Are you nervous?” the reporter asks me. I am a little. I don’t know if the grass is safe to walk on without shoes. Are there prickles or poisonous insects? Going barefoot, I need to walk on the side of the road as much as possible.

Here we go now. Mami cycles off ahead. I follow on foot.

Soon, I’m alone. I’m alone for the first time today. I haven’t been alone for many days. Now, I will be alone for many days! I feel very happy. All the months of planning are over. Now we can enjoy the trip. 

[315 words]

Monday, July 07, 2014

Chapter 12

Our trip starts the day after tomorrow, so there’s no time left to train. The most that I can do is to eat well. I will soon need all the energy that I can get. It might not be so easy to find good food when we are traveling.

Mami, her mother, and I have come to a tabehoudai. I can’t believe it. Can I really eat as much as I like? On the table in front of me there are dozens of dishes. They are heaped with many kinds of food: vegetables, meat, tempura, eggs, tofu, salads etc. I may fill my plate as many times as I like. Yes, I like!

Today, we are on our way to Aso. Mami’s mother comes from Aso. It is a beautiful place with hot springs and volcanoes. The road to Aso is famous. Motorcyclists love it. People love to drive in Japan, but they worry me.

In Japan, people drive quickly, and they change lanes without indicating. Cars follow one another very closely. They don’t stay in the left lane. People are polite to one another, it is true. However, the social habits of bowing, hesitating, and apologizing make the cars move jerkily. Also, the roads are very narrow. What will these roads be like to walk on?

We pass through another famous town. It has one of the three largest shrine gates in Japan. We stop the car there to stretch our legs. At the offerings box, Mami’s mother gives a prayer of thanks for safe driving. She rinses her mouth with water, washes her hands, and throws in a five-yen coin. I decide that after our trip I will return here. If we have survived the journey, I will offer . . . at least double.

[294 words]

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Chapter 11

There are only three days to go. This evening, we will go to a party. It’s a special party. We had a party in New Zealand to celebrate our marriage. Now, we’ll do the same in Japan. Rumi will take us in her car. About two dozen of Mami’s old school friends will come and join us.

First, however, we must go to city hall. We need to complete some paper work. Our marriage must be registered in Japan as well as in New Zealand.

Next, we go to the library. Both of us use a computer there to get on the Internet. I reply to some emails from my family and friends.

For lunch, we rush to meet Mami’s mother for lunch. Mami doesn’t watch where she is going, and her bicycle’s wheel hits the curb. She falls to the ground. Luckily she isn’t hurt too badly. Our plans for the trip need not change.

The party takes place at an Italian restaurant. Mami once worked there as a student. All her friends ask us questions: How did we meet? What is our secret for a happy marriage? I feel a little embarrassed, because the television crew has come to film.

[202 words]

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chapter 10

Over the years, I have been in the newspaper many times, and also on TV and the radio. People are interested in what I do. You see, I don’t just walk; I walk barefoot, without shoes. That’s why people—Japanese people—call me Hadashi. I’m not yet famous. I don’t think that I want to become famous. But it can be useful, if people have heard about you.

Mami’s first job was at a television company. However, she didn’t like it very much, and she stopped working there. At the TV company, Mami had a friend called Asaki. Asaki continued with television work. Now, she produces a program. And she would like to film us for that program. We are going to be on Japanese TV.

Four days before our trip starts, a television crew arrives at our address. We plan what to film. We rehearse it, and film it. The morning passes in a rush. Everyone is busy. We are interviewed at the local park. We are even filmed while eating lunch.

In the afternoon, Asaki’s boss arrives. He tells us his plan. “We will loan you a cell phone. It can take moving pictures. We will loan you this camera. Please take many pictures of your trip. We will ring you every two weeks. You will appear live on TV. We will drive you Satamisaki, where you start. We will fly up to Soyamisaki, where you finish.”

It all sounds very organized and exciting.

[246 words]