We followed Tonbo back to his home, but it wasn’t really what we expected. I had pictured some sort of old Japanese house with a big barn-like garage and a rice field out back. Apparently he does have a storehouse nearby, but since the infection hit Japan, taken up living in an old wedding hall. There is a huge white wedding culture in Japan, but it’s not as big as it once was. Spurned on by Western movies and glossy magazines, the idea took hold and people spend a lot of money to have their own white weddings in plastic chapels, usually attached to a hotel. It’s mostly about the photos, which do look good. Ayako reckons that even I could do it, as it’s usually just an English teacher dressed up as a minister. I already feel like I’m just dressing up and pretending to be an English teacher though, so I think a wedding celebrant would be a little too much. Guess we’ll see how it goes though.
These kinds of huge buildings were common during the economic prosperity of the 80s, but were too expensive to maintain once the bubble burst. Like so many abandoned buildings in Japan, these structures are particularly common in the rural areas. The camp we stayed at a while back was probably another victim of the bubble economy, and both of them would have been too expensive to take down once they went bust.
Outside the chapel was a fence topped with makeshift barbwire and spikes. I assumed it was Tonbo’s handiwork. He got off his bike and opened two padlocks in the gate, and then signalled for us to come in. Just before he was about to lock the gate we heard screams and saw two people running towards us. Their clothes were ragged, and they seemed to have less energy than the infected I was used to meeting. Tonbo pulled a short samurai sword out from somewhere and sliced at the throat of the man as soon as he was close enough. At the same time Hiroshi dropped the other man with a single shot from his rifle.
After checking the bodies, Shimoda and his men dragged them inside the fence and wrapped them in a tarpaulin to dispose of later. Risa snuggled up to my hand as I stood watching, pressing her face into my side and averting her eyes.
Inside the building, the reception area had been converted into a cafe, and more recently into a living area. A woman was already preparing food for us in a simple looking kitchen. Tonbo hadn’t been lying about the amount of food he had. The were sacks of rice piled up in the big hall, and he told us that the rest of it was in his shed close to here. “We don’t get many visitors around here,” Tonbo announced before we started eating. “Not welcome ones, at least.” The food was simple, but quite possibly the best meal I’ve ever had. We had Japanese flag rice (white rice with a sour, red plum in the middle), miso soup and corn from a can. There was even some chocolate for dessert. Tonbo encouraged us to drink, and it wasn’t long before everyone’s faces were bright red.
Shimoda was the only one who wasn’t drinking. He had looked torn between letting his men have a good time, and getting them to the island as soon as possible. It was too late though. Even if he wanted to push on to the port, I don’t think there are enough drivers in a suitable state. Guess we’ll be staying here tonight.