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Speeding away from the neon cities. The long silenced batteries of Goryokaku have been left by the sea; the malls and breweries of Sapporo, too, have disappeared behind these volcanic ridges, soft and crumbling, steep and damp with mountain bamboo; the odd mountain cherry impacts upon the eye. Pines add their own sharp relief higher up within the tree-line stratigraphy; moments snatched by the freeze-frame eye; otherwise, at this short distance, the view merely becomes a kaleidoscopic blur beyond the train window.
The atmosphere in the carriage is uncomfortable. Y sits with her mother on the seat facing mine. This is the first time to meet another member of her family. Too shy to meet the foreigner dating his daughter, her father refused to come. Her mother tries eagerly to smile.
The land peters out. The mood of the landscape shifts. As the train rounds a wide curve, the middle distance deepens. A patchwork of uneven mirrors and small farm buildings washes up to the tracks. Clouds, gluttonous and angular, hanging static in the sky's broadening expanse, are outpaced by the Asahikawa Line train. Despite the range just passed through, another series of mountains break the horizon. This time they appear not to be moving.
Back parallel to the hazy, blue mountains, a crooked figure...
an ankle-less farmer