In the gorge of Takachiho, a narrow canyon formed by a lava flow of nearby Mount Aso, I saw girls wearing city clothes for the first time in two weeks. They paddled clumsily with boys wearing city clothes, bumping into the basalt pillars, looking at nothing but themselves on screens. And why wouldn’t they? They were beautiful, and the gorge was nothing but mute black rock, its waters swirling like indigo.
Bamboo is growing by the day as I walk north. When I landed on the shores of the Ōsumi Peninsula, in distant Kagoshima, they were ham-sized chunks pushing up through the undergrowth. Almost two weeks later, they have grown into sleek black pinnacles, glowing in the afternoon sun on the outskirts of Takachiho.