Brrr! Last night was the coldest night that either of us has ever spent. Well, we had been warned that the nights get cold here. It’s because this rotenburo is high up in the mountains. We slept with all of our clothes on, but were still chilled to the bone.
I feel very sorry for Mami. What’s the best way for her to warm up? I decide for myself that it’s best to begin walking immediately. For Mami, I suggest that she goes back inside the rotenburo as soon as it opens. In the bath, she can take her time. She should put off the packing up until later.
I’m happy to be alone. In four hours, I walk 18km. During that time, I do a lot of thinking. The cherry blossoms here have only just flowered, and I think about them. Their lives are short—just a few days. Once they fall from the tree, their life is over. But it’s impossible to catch their moment of letting go.
Letting go, and picking up. I don’t need to pick up my feet and put them down; I just let them move forward on their own. Sometimes I see something interesting. I might pick it up and play with it. I find objects with bright colors and interesting shapes: a washer, a padlock, a piece of string, and a rubber baseball. Some, I may drop as I reach for the next. Some I’ll keep.
The road goes uphill and then downhill—an hour each way. All the time, it twists and winds. I remember Pauli saying that the Japanese build roads with the same energy that the Egyptians built pyramids.
I see a policeman cut out of plywood. You see them standing here and there. I wonder if they are to trick motorists into taking care. I think that there’s a need in Japan for road safety. It’s worrying how motorists speed, then slow, in, jerks. They follow each other far too closely, but then rush-to-overtake on corners and crests. They fail to give way, and they take unexpected lines around curves. Perhaps here they are nervous because they are so far from the city.
The next city that we reach is Miyazaki. It’s the largest city that we’ve come to. It is now 5 p.m. At first, it grows pleasantly cool. Then, it gets chilly. The traffic doubles, but the road’s width halves. We try to work out where we are, but the map is useless. It doesn’t even show the 500-metre-wide river that runs through the city’s centre.
We think about looking for a campsite. However, this will be our seventh night on the road. We’ve only slept indoors once so far, at Pauli’s. Mami suggests looking for a Youth Hostel, and I agree. It would be great to get a good warm night’s sleep.
The middle-aged woman in charge leads us upstairs, and shows us to our room. She also shows us where the bath is. There’s one for men, and one for women, but she encourages us to share one. Apart from us, the hostel is empty, so it won’t matter if I enter the women’s bath. Okay then, I’m willing to take the risk. If another female guest arrives, she is welcome to join us.