On Awaji Island

Posted on Monday, April 04, 2011, under ,

Climbing the Mount Mikuma to Sumoto Castle and Back

by a designated footpath reserved for the slightly adventurous — if the adventurous means wearing Columbia shoes, nibbling the potato chips, pausing to catch breath between bites and swallowed up syllables, if the adventurous means gesturing there’s a songbird in the bushes, as it crosses the path at a safe distance and hops off out of sight leaving us to notice how the earth layers (the strips of land having been shaved off by bulldozers) have exposed the roots and crust ducts to the naked eye, the eye that leads us up to the cryptic white blotches on several tree barks – the birth of fungi?

On the hilltop, you take a snap surreptitiously: my shaved head from the back as the panorama foreground. Your ocular cunning surprises.
The castle grounds unpeopled. A tea room, its one door open, dark inside. A woman dozed off with her back turned, panda-like. The fried octopus rolls are advertised, not to be seen or sniffed.

The castle fenced-off by the restoration work signs. Curiosity gets the better of me as I hurdle over the metal bars — anticipating your law-abiding, scolding look — and climb up the wooden staircase for a glimpse of the castle’s interior: the paint peeling off the walls, the window bars rusty black; the whole place abandoned to its natural decay. I take the opportunity to imagine my nail-scratching the black bars down to their bloodstained bones.

On the way down the path feels much steeper. A polite nod to a man walking uphill. Knees hurting. My near-calamitous fall. More nods to more unnamed birds. Your birdlike chirping.

At the foot of the hill you point to the public toilet. It takes me a few seconds to recall I wanted to pee back up the path. We stroll along the beach fancying the sand belongs to us. In the distance children’s excited voices: 'Unagi! Unagi!' I pick up a ball of sand the size of a marble, about to pocket it, as a souvenir. 'Leave it' – you say 'it wants to become a grain.'

April 02, 2011 

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