With my hitchhiking status temporarily on “rain delay” and no old ladies to flirt with, I was stuck for something to do. I opened my journal to a blank page but couldn’t think of anything to write about.
Then a thought hit me. This is Japan! How can I not have much to write about? What do you see? Hear? Smell?
Inspired by that insight, what follows is a comprehensive sensory description of my rainy afternoon in the roadside service area in the town of Oumou, Hokkaido, Japan on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009.
To my left, two cheerful ladies are laughing while rearranging the displays in a little gift shop. They glance over at me from time to time, probably wondering who I am and what I’m writing about.
The service station itself is fairly nondescript – grey tables, grey rest rooms, and a row of vending machines filled with green tea and cigarettes. Out the window is a gloomy town, sulking under the relentless rain. I’ll venture out there soon, but I need to finish my…
…coffee. It’s heavily sweetened and is especially useful in washing down the awful Calorie Mate blocks I have purchased. They are a chalky meal-replacement that compete with North Korea's military food rations for worst meal ever. On the upside, I’m pretty sure they last forever. I wonder how long my…
…dried scallops will last. My pack is closed at my feet but I can smell them from here. The fishy scent competes with the odour of cigarette smoke, which wafts lazily in my direction from a group of business men, who are likely in a hurry and are very focused on…
…the noodles they are eating, loudly slurping them with the characteristic fervour common to noodle-eaters everywhere in Japan. The sound is expected – even encouraged – and I have, as a matter of pride, developed my own special technique of sending sputtering strands of carbohydrate noisily down the hatch.
Other aural surroundings include the laughing gift shop staff, the flat drone of the rain, and the hum of the nearby vending machines. And softly, barely audible, is the little scratch of my…
…trusty Cross pen, smooth in my hand, dutifully passing ink to paper and transferring just a touch of friction back to my hand in return.