“What does one have for lunch in Makurazaki?” I asked the man at the last train station. He had a stamp which informed me that the other end of the Japanese rail network, Wakkanai, was 3,126 kilometers away.
“You have raw skipjack tuna. And don’t bother with the restaurants, just get it at the supermarket. You’ll get the same thing but it’s much cheaper.”
The town was swirling in every shade of gray, the clouds low and fast, the air a steam bath. In dim warehouses of corrugated aluminium workers processed mountains of skipjack for katsuobushi.
“Where are you headed, anyway?”
“To Kaimon,” I said. “And then maybe I’ll just keep walking. To Wakkanai, perhaps.”
Half a pound of skipjack and half a liter of Yebisu later I walked out of Makurazaki into a storm which blew in off the South China Sea, and at night the road led out over the broiling surf and the howling winds, and then I walked up to the foot of Mount Kaimon in the dark, the volcano towering above as the clouds cleared and the air began to dry.
It’s the season for planting rice, and the flooded paddies are home to myriads of tree frogs, croaking along the roads leading to Cape Sata. This guy though, camouflaged against the old-fashioned tiles of a public bathroom, is something of a loner. Or maybe just dreaming of Costa Rica.