The bus is quiet tonight. A few Chinese workers from the Panasonic plant and a family of three wearing identical scarves and hats. The little girl draws a few random squiggles on the foggy window with her finger and then erases her artwork with the cuff of her sleeve. Rinse. Repeat. Wax on. Wax off. Every time a new passenger climbs on board, he or she goes through the same ritual: shaking their umbrella and making a loud brrrr noise just to make sure everyone on the bus knows it’s raining outside. I know it’s raining outside, as I did the same exact ritual myself ten minutes ago. I stare at the back of the seat in front of me, watching the streetlights pass over the fabric again and again and again. It’s October in Kanagawa, and the Tanzawa Mountains are somewhere in the distance but the condensation on the windows means I can only see orange and black outside.
The bus stops at Hon-Atsugi bus terminal which is actually just a bus stop by the side of the road. I like these delusions of grandeur and find them charming. The family scuttle off, matching umbrellas in hand, and the Chinese workers disappear down a side street to eat, drink and smoke. I put up my hood and decide that if I have money I’ll eat, and if not I’ll go home. In my pocket I find two 500-yen coins and my stomach growls in appreciation. Through the rain I see a red lantern across the street casting a red shadow over the wet pavement. Ramen. I run across the road and slide open the door, performing the same ritual as on the bus: shaking my coat like a dog just to make sure everyone in the shop knows it’s raining outside. They know it’s raining outside, as they did the exact same ritual ten minutes ago.
The place smells of second-hand books and miso and Japan. My feet are soaking wet but I’m content. A grandfather clock ticks himself to sleep in the far corner of the room, and I join him, waiting for my food.