As we drive cautiously towards Shingu, where the SDF are stationed at a power plant, Ayako asked if we could stop by Nachi no Taki, which is a famous waterfall in Wakayama and the highest in Japan. Alex was hesitant about it, but she persisted.

“I want Risa to see it. She needs to see there is still beauty in Japan. I want her to see more than violence.”

Given what she and her daughter had been through, it seemed like a minor detour, so Alex began following the big blue road signs towards the waterfall. It was a beautiful scene and in less turbulent times there would have been a lot of tourists here. As it would happen, we had the place to ourselves and it did feel a little magical. It was a strange feeling that for thousands of years people would have been coming here to see and drink from the waterfall.

Otake

There were abandoned cars in the carpark, but nothing we could open. Standing at the bottom and watching the water plummet from high above us felt somewhat magestic.

“I used to come here with Taro,” Ayako said suddenly, seemingly to herself.

Vending machieThe one vending machine we found had been knocked over and looted. It had started to rust in a heap on the ground. However, with the pure water falling from 133 metres above us, we didn’t really need it and we filled up our bottles from the waterfall instead.

It had been a while since we had washed, so we took off our clothes and took a short dip in the pool beneath the waterfall. With everything we had experienced together, there was no shyness between us. Of course Alex and I couldn’t help but notice Ayako’s beauty, but even if she noticed us snatching the occasional extended look, she didn’t seem to mind.

After our swim, we sat on the rocks in the spring sun for a while. When we were mostly dry, put our clothes back on and got back in the car.

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