my eyes and circle my finger around the map. Wherever my finger lands. Between Otsuki and Saruhashi. Otsuki.
There are too many lights and buttons on the ticket machine. Spaceship cockpit. I walk to the ticket-booth window and point to Otsuki on my map and a man gives me a ticket.
The train pulls away from Yokosuka, blue line on the map, white dots denote cities, I Pac-Man city names: Taura, Higashi-Zushi, Zushi, Yokodai, Negishi, Yamate. Transfer to green line in Yokohama. Continuing past the big Ferris wheel. Gray skyscrapers blur into bright green rice fields spotted with those old houses I’ve always seen in ninja movies. I wish ninjas were fighting on this train. Fuzzy green and black mountains. I’m hungry. Just a snack.
Off at Nakayama. At one of the stalls I buy a dark purple pickled radish the size of a flashlight. A lot of people are in line at another stall. Must be good. I follow. In line I see people walking from the front with paper cones filled with, crickets? An old lady tosses a few in her mouth. A young man tosses some in his. At the front and a lady is scooping crickets into oil and lightly frying them. I pay for my paper cone and toss a few into my mouth. Alternate: crickets, radish, crickets, radish. I buy a pint of beer from a vending machine.
Another hour and a half and the train pockets into a forest valley. Otsuki. I walk through a park, tree-lined path. Pink and white petals float from the gray sky. At the end of the park I walk into a wooden restaurant and sit at the bar. A woman places a rolled, warm moist towel in front of me. I want to order, but don’t know how to ask. The chef starts pressing rice and placing fish on the rice and nodding when he hands it to me. I eat. I never order but the orange red white fish keeps coming. Tiny red balls piled in a crispy seaweed tub. The balls pop between my teeth and salty fish juice squirts. I point to a bottle of, sake? Gulp that shit between bites of fish. I get my bill, do the quick exchange rate, not over my 4120 per diem, probably. Fuck it, pull out my government credit card. Stagger back through the dark park to the train station.
Fuck that map. I know where I’m going, goddammit: green line southeast to Yokohama, blue line south to Yokosuka. I doze off.
The train jerks me awake. Slowing. Out the window reads Shinjuku. My watch reads 23.00. I pull out the map. I got on the wrong line. Almost to Tokyo. Oh well. I don’t get off the train until I’m in the heart of Tokyo, whatever that is. I can’t recognize any of the shit I’ve seen on TV.
Sign in to Granta.com.