The day we met, August 1, 2008.
“It might be a stress-induced Psychogenic Amnesia,” The psychiatrist told Oosakabe.
“That… does that mean it’s an aftereffect of the accident..?” Oosakabe replied.
“No, no. It’s quite wrong to say that. You still have the memories before and after the accident, right? Therefore, I don’t think the main cause was the accident itself, but some kind of psychological shock that you felt afterwards. Also, the results of your CT scan showed no traces of strong impact on your head.”
“Psychological shock..” Oosakabe quietly muttered as he pondered about what the psychiatrist had just told him.
Oosakabe was hospitalized after the bus accident he had caused this January of the same year. And it was only after he was safely discharged a few months later that he had finally noticed that he was losing fragments of his memory for the last two to three months.
Even Oosakabe himself couldn’t exactly guess what memories they were.
He thought that he didn’t have to think too hard about what it was since it didn’t really affect his daily life. But just to be on the safe side, he went to see a psychiatrist for a medical examination and was told that he had a psychogenic amnesia.
Psychogenic amnesia is, basically, a psychological disorder in which memories are lost due to mental stress or other similar factors. It is generally coupled with retrograde amnesia, which is the inability to remember things from the past, such as unpleasant experiences or events, and is often linked to the inability to remember specific people.
To explain the situation in more detail, Oosakabe’s memories up to spring were fine, but from then to the present—July, his memories were missing in some places.
To put it simply, both the contents of the lost memories and the cause should’ve led us to think of the bus accident as the number one suspect, but the fact that Oosakabe’s memories from the time of the accident are still firmly in place suggests that the accident was not the main cause.
The psychiatrist told Oosakabe that although it was difficult to determine what the main cause was, there must have been some stressful event that Oosakabe experienced somewhere in the early spring or early summer.
“It’d be better if you take some time off work in order to recuperate. Why don’t you take a long vacation and go on a trip somewhere?” The psychiatrist told Oosakabe.
The psychiatrist’s advice was also one of the reasons why he had decided to take a month-long trip.
After leaving his apartment early this morning with luggages on both hands, Oosakabe took the bullet train north on the Touhoku Main Line.
“If it’s work, I’ve already quit a long time ago,” Oosakabe muttered with a tone of self-mockery as his eyes followed the view outside the train window as it flew by.
Oosakabe Kengo, twenty-five years old. He was born and raised in the City of Urawa, Saitama Prefecture. His family consists of his parents and a younger brother who lives at their parents’ house. His younger brother is three years younger than him and is a university student.
Although Oosakabe has a relatively neat face, his lack of fashion sense, his unkempt hair and slightly grown stubble makes for a dull first impression.
Furthermore, his quiet and unemotional nature adds more to his subdued appearance.
The reason for why his personality became like that was due to his memory of moving and changing schools which he had experienced multiple times during his childhood and school days.
Repeated encounters and farewells. The constant anticipation and anxiety of loss that Oosakabe had always carried, created a bad habit of not wanting to get deeply involved with others.
By the time Oosakabe graduated from middle school, his father had the opportunity to change jobs, which resulted in them not having to move somewhere else ever again. However, it was already too late. After all, changing a personality that had been formed since childhood isn’t that easy.
As Oosakabe went to high school and then to university, he gradually lost his place in society.
He was treated as if he was air. But perhaps because he didn’t actively try to establish relationships with other people, no one ever tried to get in touch with him. Maybe, that was all there is to it.
Even so, Oosakabe wasn’t as laudable enough to accept that it was all his fault.
It was after graduating from a local four-year college university that Oosakabe found a job at a bus company in Saitama. He wasn’t really greatly dissatisfied with the company he was working for, but after the accident which had resulted in a lot of deaths, he had no other choice but to quit.
“A boring life. That is all I can see waiting ahead of me,” Those words were what Oosakabe had been saying for the last few months. There was no longer any hope that he could find for the rest of his life.
That’s why he chose the path of throwing away everything behind the moment he decided on this trip.
It is for that reason he temporarily stopped his ongoing job-hunting activities and broke up with his girlfriend.
Oosakabe got off the bullet train at Morioka Station and from there, he transferred to the JR Yamada Line. He then went in front of the Miyako Station, which was the last stop to ride a transit bus and continued on going to his planned destination.
After driving through the desolate urban city, the bus gradually began to drive through the forest where a panoramic view of the sea could be seen in the distance.
“Wher’re ya fr’m, young’un?”
The weather is nice. The sky which reflects the blue color of the sea is very beautiful.
While I was looking outside the window completely lost in thought, an elderly man—or I say, but he’s probably still in his 70’s1[Huh???]—sitting beside me suddenly spoke.
“Ah, me? I’m from Saitama desuyo.”2[I don’t know how to word it in a way that shows his respect towards the old man.]
“Hoh, y’ve com’a long way, eh? ‘Ya h’re fer sightse’ng a sumthin’?”
“Well, that’s about it desu. My hobby is photography, so I thought that I’d like to try at least once and take pictures of Joudogahama,” Oosakabe said as he reached for the SLR Camera that was nearby his hand.
Joudogahama. It’s the name of the place Oosakabe set as his destination for this trip.
It is one of the most famous scenic spots on the Rikuchu Coast and has been selected as one of the 100 best places for swimming in the sea of Japan. It also features a beautiful coastline made of white rhyolite. The name “Joudogahama” was said to be given after the seventh head of Jouanji Temple on the Miyako Mountain, Reikyo Osho, said and marveled, “It’s just like a Gokurakujyoudo*.”3[極楽浄土 – Gokurakujyoudo, which means Amitabha’s Pure Land in buddhist term. It can be interpreted in English as Pure Land or Paradise. So, let’s go back to explaining why it’s called Joudogahama(though I’m not sure if you’re interested). 浄土ヶ浜 – 浄土/Jyoudo: Which means “Pure Land” + 浜/Hama: Which means “Beach or Seashore.”]
The fact that he had chosen this place as a destination for his month-long vacation was of no great significance. If anything, it was just because the sea was beautiful.
“Hoh? Joudogahama, I see,” the old man said, as he clapped his hands in understanding. “‘Tis a very scenic place. I h’pe ye a good trip.”
“Ah, thank you very much!”
“By ‘teh way, young’un. How’s ya p’rents doin’?”
“Ah, my parents? They’re both doing well desuyo.”
“‘Tis natur’l they be fine. Wha’m askin’s where they’re and what busin’ss they be doin.”
“Aaah,” said Oosakabe to himself. “My father is a lawyer, though he was just a regular office worker until I reached high school. My mother is a full-time housewife, and they are both at home in Urawa.”
“A lawyer, ‘s a pretty impressive job, no? Th’n, must mean yer smart as well, ‘rent ya?”
“No, no, someone like me…” Oosakabe was about to say, but then slurred his words at the end. There was no need for him to reveal his shameful past to an old stranger he had just met today.
He tried to dismiss the conversation with a vague smile that said, “Don’t mind it,” before turning his attention back outside the bus. As he looked outside the window at the scenery drifting by, he caught something strange and before he knew it, his gaze was drawn to it.
Someone was standing there just now, wasn’t there? Eh? What are they doing, standing alone in such a gloomy forest?
“Excuse me, uh.. Just now.. Wasn’t there a long-haired girl wearing a black one-piece dress standing near the base of that tree there?”
At Oosakabe’s words, the old man tilted his head in a puzzled manner.
“I’on’t think any’ne’s there. ‘n the first place, there’s no’ne who would’a walk deeply’n sucha forest.”
“You’re….right..” Oosakabe replied to the old man.
It might’ve been just my imagination…
No.. to be exact, it’s a little bit more different. It wasn’t just my imagination. The old man just couldn’t see the woman, and only I could. Does this mean that she’s not from here?
After coming up with several theories in his head, Oosakabe shrugged his shoulders.
Just as when we’re on our way to sightseeing, we’re already struck with an ill-omen. We shouldn’t be distracted by such trifling thoughts. Oosakabe concluded, and brushed off the uncomfortable feeling that had lodged in his head.
Oosakabe then continued to glance outside the window for more than ten minutes. Eventually, the bus he was riding on finally stopped at a bus stop with a label that says “Joudogahama Inner Part.”
After giving a bow to the old man, Oosakabe paid his fare, got off the bus, and then stretched to relieve the stiffness in his shoulders. And then, he turned his gaze up towards the sky.
It was a perfectly clear weather, a beautiful blue sky with no clouds around.
—August 1, 2008.
The unusual summer that Oosakabe experienced is about to begin.
- 2[I don’t know how to word it in a way that shows his respect towards the old man.]
- 3[極楽浄土 – Gokurakujyoudo, which means Amitabha’s Pure Land in buddhist term. It can be interpreted in English as Pure Land or Paradise. So, let’s go back to explaining why it’s called Joudogahama(though I’m not sure if you’re interested). 浄土ヶ浜 – 浄土/Jyoudo: Which means “Pure Land” + 浜/Hama: Which means “Beach or Seashore.”]