in his continuing travels in japan mark says: i finally have a computer that i’m not paying for by the minute and I’ve got the japanese keyboard sussed out for the most part…this goes back a few days to the 13th…
so we left kyoto yesterday afternoon around 3:30. just to let you know, that is awfully late to be leaving town by bicycle. we rode along a road with a lot of truck traffic, though once we got to the biwa-ko lake, there was a decent bike lane. most of the towns have bike lanes, but they are really just sidewalks puncutred by driveways every 10m. anyways, it starts getting dark (japan does not have daylight savings)…and then it’s pitch. we are on a one lane road with no light whatsoever and we are not going to make it to hikone. we find a hotel on the map, but they’ve no vacancies because of a high school trip. so we continue in darkness for another 30-40 minutes until we happen unto a youth hostel swathed in the darkness.
it’s definitely old traditional tatami mats and paper screen doors, and the landlady is a little bit onery. there are a couple of old japanese guys there. we get a room, but then another japanese traveler arrives and ends up sharing our room. the new guy is on his way to pick up a new 38ft american-made offshore powerboat. strangeness. (by the way, i am negotiating with hotels and conversing with travelers with my own meager language skills, thank you very much.) eventually we go to sleep.
i wake up in the middle of the night. the japanese guys, seemingly all of them, are talking in their sleep. with just the paper screen doors, you can hear everyone. what’s worse, the voices seem to be everywhere, disembodied, and almost chanting…it’s a little creepy. but i’m not really afraid of ghosts. but i do hate bugs…there’s something crawling on me.
the hanging lights in these places normally have a “night light” function that puts out just a wee bit of light…enough for my eyes to make out the room but not enough to read or make out fine detail. so when i whip off the cover from my futon, i can’t tell if it’s a centipede or millipede, but i can tell it’s about 4-5 inches long. millipedes are funny looking, but centipedes are poisonous…and i’m allergic to many bugs. everyone else is asleep, so i reach over and grab a water bottle and prepare myself…
oh, lord, guide my hand as i strike down this foul demon that in your infinite wisdom or whimsy, you have deemed to torment me. let not this thing send me searching for the japanese word for “anti-venom”. amen.
whack! whack! first strike hits but does not kill….second strike misses entirely, goddamn that thing was fast! that’s the confirmation as centipede, millipedes are dead slow. the thing shot into a dark crevice out of my reach. wonderful…it could come back…there could be more…and still the voices.
in the morning, we got up and rode out…there was no sign of the landlady.