The tenement was home to an old taxi driver. The building looked ancient – the old man liked to boast it had been built before the Meiji Restoration of 1868. It was a total wreck, and he was the only person living there. The tenement consisted of a terrace of four houses: the taxi driver lived in the one on the far left, while his taxi occupied the one on the far right, which had been stripped of its floor and walls.
The old man didn’t work much. In fact, he took his taxi out just two days a week. He’d leave around noon and be back by evening.
Once a year, the old man would leave his house for three days straight. That was in mid-January, the period that used to be called the second New Year. He would wake up the morning of his departure and prepare a dozen rice balls. Then he would fill a big Thermos with tea, and pack six boiled eggs and six mandarin oranges.