After a long walk down the mountain, we finally got to the kei-truck that Alex had left there. The family squeezed into the front with Taro driving, while Alex and I sat in the back with the bikes and bags. After winding our way through the quiet mountain roads of Hongu, we eventually got to Tanabe. It’s not a big city compared to Osaka or Tokyo, but it is one of the biggest places in Wakayama.

After going into a few houses, we found a set of car keys for a car that would actually fit all of us, and left the kei-truck in a car park. We also found a car charger, so now we’re going through the process of charging all of our batteries. There’s no power or running water in the town, and something has definitely gone down here. There are a lot of stripped skeletons around the streets, lying in splattered dry blood. I wish we could have done something for the dignity of the bodies, but there were just too many of them, and we were worried about who might still be around. We also found a few frail bodies that were still intact. They were all abnormally thin, and it looked as though they’d just fallen over from sickness, exhaustion or hunger. They hadn’t been touched at all, and although we checked them for signs of life, they were cold.

Getting back into town is worse than when we left. The quiet of Hirogawa, where pretty much no one lived in the first place is different here. Here, with all of the evidence of recent habitation, and the smell of death lingering in the air, the silence feels different. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s almost if the town is intentionally being silent, rather than there actually just being no one here.

After finding the car, we decided that our next priority was to find food, although we still had some of the leftover rations. It was difficult, but we did manage to break into a few vending machines and got some bottle water, as well as other drinks. We also managed to find some snacks, but that was about the extent of it. img_3170

As the evening settled, we decided to stay the night in a bus that we had found in a carpark earlier. Unfortunately, the tank is empty, but it’s a private bus and seems stronger than the usual public buses. Ayako was a little uncomfortable about being in the open and would have preferred to have stayed in building, but we had a vote and it was decided that the bus would be suffice.

Between the hike, drive and scavenging, we were all pretty tired. Risa curled up in a blanket and was asleep almost as soon as we got in. The streets were dark and we couldn’t see anything outside, but I am sure Alex and maybe Taro were awake most of the night listening for what was lurking outside. I was the second to succumb to sleep. The warmth of early spring filtering through the bus windows woke me up, and I’m writing this quickly before we continue our journey down to Shirahama.

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