Cory greeted me with a mask and an elbow bump — which still feels like a cheap alternative for a very dated practice in the first place — and advised me to put my bag into the truck bed, before suggesting that I run into the convenience store to grab dinner. While Minakami is itself drastically different from the metro experience, there are a few things that remain the same, 7/11’s delicious selection of lovingly crafted junk food one of them. I grabbed a sandwich, an onigiri, some nuts, a few beers, and called it dinner.
With a respectable amount of calories and alcohol in my hands, I headed back out of the store and into the fuselage of Cory’s truck, somewhat eerily lit by 2 blue nightlights on the dash, and off we went into the darkness. Things didn’t get much better with the headlights on, and so the blank canvas of the shadow shrouded town remained ostensibly the same, merely whirring past me at a speed greater than before.
Soon enough, we took a slight right at the only traffic light I had seen so far, and headed uphill. As we twisted and turned climbing the mountain road, Cory and I exchanged pleasantries, speaking of Coronatime business, local characters, the schedule he so kindly assembled for me, details of the house we were headed to, and our mutual acquaintances and interests. Occasionally, he’d point out the truck window and say something like “remember to turn left at this blue house,” but I still couldn’t see jack shit so I just nodded and subtly reconfirmed on my phone that I indeed did have Cory’s number for when I got lost.
On and on the road went, getting ever narrower, ever more cobbled, ever dirtier. Japanese roads have always amazed me for their assumption that they are footpaths, and not pathways that /cars — /the smallest of which still have a substantial width to them — will be operating on, and these ones take the cake, of recent memory anyway. Much like the trips on empty trains, I find these country roads quite pleasant, offering a calming interstice between the trip and destination. Of course, they probably aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but hey, so is everything else so that’s cool.