Rikuzentakata Diary — Continued
06:45: Soaking in the hot water in the hotel spa, I let my thoughts wander as the Carpenter’s tune ‘We’ve only just begun’ yet again flowed in subliminal musical notes from the speakers overhead. My plan for the day was to take photos of the Newly Constructed Shopping Center. I had already taken photos of empty fields, construction equipment, the Miracle Pine and the Conveyor Belt. I splashed my face with hot water as I pondered a niggling question: For the iBook production how was I going to tie everything together in a meaningful narration?
11:30: The taxi driver left me off in a parking lot. “The Mirai Shoten Gai is over there,” he said and handed me my change and receipt. I looked in the direction where he had pointed his finger. “Thank you,” I said and got out of the taxicab. I expected to see a shopping center much like the ones in Yokohama. What greeted my eyes was a work in progress.
After I took the photos I wanted, I decided to head in the direction of the Rikuzentakata City Hall. I’d forgotten my map, so I asked the clerk at the Lawson’s Convenience Store how to get there. The clerk, a young man in his mid twenties, pointed out the window and told me to walk up the hill. “About a ten-minute walk,” he explained with a Lawson’s smile.
13:10: I spied two restaurants across a field on a backroad. My stomach gurgled a reminder that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so I doubled back to the backroad and headed to the first restaurant called Maius 2000 Dinette. Inside, a woman in the kitchen leaned over the counter that divided it from the dining area. She instructed me on how to select my meal on the vending machine near the entrance. I thanked her and selected my choice of tonkatsu teishoku, deep fried pork lunch special that included rice and miso soup. A meal fit for a king! Or at least for a grumbling stomach.
The restaurant was empty except for me and two women at a table near a window. They were deep in conversation. The few words I understood gave me the impression the younger woman was seeking advice from the older woman what she should do about a marital problem. Having myself divorced two women because of marital problem, I tuned out and started eating.
13:50: Before I left the restaurant, I asked the four women who worked in the kitchen if I could take their photos. After much hesitation, they agreed.
(During my younger days as a videographer, I sometimes resorted to guerrilla tactics and snapped shots of people and places without their permission. Those experiences belonged to my younger, bolder days; now I was in Rikuzentakata as a tourist — a lot older and perhaps a bit more considerate.)
14:05: I continued walking upward along the road in the direction of the city hall. More fields and houses far from the coast and protected by surrounding hills came into focus of my camera lens. Of course, the ubiquitous signs of construction also populated my camera’s memory chip.
14:30: Finally, I reached the city hall which is housed in a temporarily constructed building. The priority of the city planners is perhaps to reconstruct the damaged business and residential areas before considering the construction of a new city hall.
From the bus stop, where I got off at on the first day, I could see the newly constructed fire department. I walked across the street and took a few pictures. Around 15:00 I was feeling tired, so I walked to the Seven-Eleven Store nearby the fire department and asked the clerk to call a taxi. I was ready for soaking in the hotel spa.
18:00: The masseur massaged my aching body. He started on my feet and worked upward. He was curious and loquacious. He told me he had worked at many jobs, including as a security guard at Narita Airport. His main passion was art and after the massage he showed me a packet of postcards on which he had drawn scenes of Iwate Prefecture’s natural beauty. He lived in Kesennuma, a city about a thirty-minute drive from Rikuzentakata. Because he seemed reluctant to reveal a deeper insight into his personal background, I didn’t press him for answers. Besides, his strong fingers were smoothing away the stresses in my tired muscles. “Relax,” he said and I closed my eyes.
21:30: I sat before the computer fully intending to write up my observations for Day 3. The cursor blinked with unceasing insistence, but my mind was as blank as the page on the monitor. I kept on nodding off and finally I shut down the computer. Then I eased my septuagenarian body under the bedcovers and fell fast asleep.