Sandpanther (sandpanther) wrote,

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A Little Knowledge Is Not Always A Good Thing

I'm currently reading a series of Japanese books that take place in a variety of real places in Japan. (Mirage of Blaze, or just MoB.) Since said real places also tend to be tourist spots and since the author and I use similar selection criteria for vacation spots, I've been to about half of the places that show up.

This is not always a good thing. For example,

The section of the story I'm reading was covered in the mirror story arc from the anime. Where I'm at right now, one of our heros, Naoe, is driving to take a look at where Maiko's brother crashed on Irohazaka. (Maiko is the chick who goes to see Naoe for help on figuring out why her brother keeps showing up whenever she looks in mirrors, even though he's unconscious in the hospital.)

So Naoe drives out to Nikko and picks up Maiko at the Tobu Nikko train station. Which makes me remember that the last time I was there I got off the bus to get some caramel ice cream, and was disappointed that the were out. ;_; The characters drive down the road toward the Toshogu area, and Kuwabara-sensei describes the entire route in such loving detail that I am miffed when, at a spot where I know the road dead-ends, she fails to tell me if they turn left or right. Grr. If you are going to give me all this information, you might as well go all the way and just give me directions to the hospital. Because I'm just strange and completist like that. She did comment that the hospital was about 4 km away from that spot, so finding it on a map shouldn't be particularly difficult anyway. Do I intend to go the Full Fangirl and visit this hospital? No. But with that much information I just can't resist seeing if I can't figure out where exactly she was thinking of.

She also decided to taunt me by devoting an entire paragraph to describing the Shinkyou. I have never seen this in person, since it has been undergoing renevation for over three years (that I know of.) Seeing this stupid Shinkyou is on my list of "things I want to do in the Nikko area before I die", along with seeing Irohazaka with leaves. Yes, leaves. This shouldn't be too difficult, there are plenty of trees in the area. But every time I've been there, all the trees have been dead sticks. Ideally I would like to see the area with its famous fall foliage. But at this point I will settle for leaves. Any kind of leaves. Just so long as they are on the trees.

Where was I? Oh, right. There was a story going on.

Our characters visit the hospital, then decide to go to see where the brother crashed. Irohazaka being what it is, they will have to take the long way around, because of the one-way nature of the road. Kuwabara-sensei takes this opportunity to inform the reader about how Iroha works. I (and most people reading this who care, I expect) already know about the one-way system, so I skim this fairly quickly. The author takes a paragraph to explain why there are more crashes on the downhill part of Iroha than on the uphill. While I agree with her assessment that Slope 1 has a worse road surface and a few more hairpins, I disagree that the road is that narrow. (While it is narrower than Slope 2 -- which has two lanes, opposed to Slope 1's single lane -- Slope 1 used to be a two-way road for... well, over a millenium. Slope 1 is the old pilgrimage route to Chuzen Temple and the other half of the Futaara Shrine... But I digress.) I also think the reason there are more accidents on the downhill slope than the uphill is because it's easier to screw up when gravity is fighting you than when gravity is helping. And I try not to think too much about street racers screwing up drifts, which surely accounts for some of the accidents.

This thought, of course, makes me pause and check just how contemporous IniD and MoB are, since they both have bits that take place on Irohazaka. Naoe said that he's been to Nikko several times. Perhaps he brought the Tachibana family Ferarri out to Iroha a couple of times to have some fun. This inspires all kinds of horrible "what would happen if someone brought [fill in some random expensive imported sports car] to an IniD race" thoughts, and reminded me that I should check and see if there is a new chapter of Dark Horizons up. (Yes, I am a masochist.) Maybe after Aki-sue kicks what's-his-snozzle out of her stupid group then Naoe could take over driving the Ferarri? *poing!* Ack, no! Bad thought. Go sit in the corner with Miss Edith. There will be no milk and cookies for you.

Uh, wasn't I reading a story here somewhere? Where was I before I got sidetracked by awful fanfics?

Right, heading up Irohazaka. The author points out the letter signposts on the hairpins, which gives me some hope that she might actually accurately indicate where Shinya (the brother) crashed. Because I'm just completist that way. I wonder if I can still find my map of Iroha that has all the corners labeled? It should be on a backup... Um, right. Story.

Our characters drive along and I wait in anticipation for some snotty monkey to wander across the street right in front of them. So far no monkey, but all of a sudden Maiko says "stop the car!" I first wonder if the expected monkey did just show up. Then I wonder if they aren't stopping at Akechidaira after all. But no. They are at the Chuzenji bus terminal. Okay, not a problem. I'm used to Kuwabara-sensei's habit of having characters react to something and only afterward does she get around to filling in details like where they are or what they are reacting to.

Except... They were driving from Nikko with intent to go down Iroha. They are currently at the bus station. This means that 1) they are in an area that has fairly heavy traffic, and 2) the roads are one lane each direction right there, with no shoulder to pull over. Um, did Naoe just come screeching to a halt in the middle of the street?

Maiko had spotted someone she knows getting off the bus. Bus... bus... They are headed toward the downhill portion of Iroha and are right next to the bus station... Japan is a right-hand drive country. That means that... yes. They are on the opposite side of the street from the bus station, and Maiko is on the far side of the car to boot. Okay.

She gets out and starts talking to her friend. (Actually, it's her brother's girlfriend, to be precise.) Since no mention was made of anyone, y'know, crossing the street, I'm assuming that now the car is stopped in the middle of a busy, two-lane street and Maiko has popped out of the car and is shouting across the street to her friend. At this point I'm starting to imagine the line of disgruntled motorists that is starting to form behind Naoe's car.

The characters talk for a moment, but I am mostly busy thinking of how it is possible that they are holding the conversation and not completely blocking traffic. I am starting to hear aggrivated honks from the cars behind. "In the dream he said, 'destroy the mirror'" *hooooooonk* "Destroy the mirror?" *hoooOOOOOOOOOOnk*

A few more lines later, and our characters hear the sound of police sirens. I burst out laughing. "Yes," I think. "They are coming to arrest you for holding up traffic! But now there's such a long line of cars behind you that even the cops can't get through!"

Well, actually, the cops weren't there to arrest Naoe for blocking the road. They fly by (on the wrong side of the road, I can only imagine.) Our characters ask a near-by shopkeeper if there has been another accident on Iroha, but the shopkeeper says that they are headed to the Kegon Waterfall. Someone jumped.

At this point I put the book down because I am laughing and clapping. I didn't know people still jumped at Kegon! Bwahahahaha!! That's classic!

(Fortunately, for those who are not geeks like me, the author goes on to explain the source of my amusement. The Kegon Waterfall is famous for having people commit suicide by jumping off it. Which is a real shame, 'cause it's an awfully pretty waterfall and having dead bodies at the base of it would just be unaesthetic. Fortunately, I think the giant squid at the bottom can take care of eating the corpses before they get too gross.

Okay, so I'm joking about the giant squid bit. It's an old in-joke between me and llamabitchyo. But I'm not kidding about the jumpers. Or the waterfall being pretty.)

You know, I can't even remember what happens next. I think everyone gets back into the car and they go to park it somewhere and go check out the jumper at the waterfall. (Much to the relief of the traffic jam behind them, who can now go on their merry way.) They do not, however, park the car in the relatively large (by Japanese standards) parking lot at Kegon no taki, which perplexes me. Perhaps they parked in the parking lot of the... natural science museum, I think it is? Whatever. It's in between the bus terminal and the waterfall, and it's huge (by Japanese standards -- or about what you would expect, by US standards.) Maybe they found on-street parking on the little side street that they should have driven up to and pulled off at instead of sitting in the middle of the street and blocking traffic.

And that, my friends, is why a little knowledge is not always a good thing. Because it means that instead of reading the story I am distracted by the long line of traffic that Our Hero is holding up. I bet most of them drive Skylines, too.

Next up: checking out the pretty waterfall, then going down a road that I know better than some of the roads around here. This should be entertaining.
Tags: inid, japanese geography, mob

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