The seventh, and presumably last, time I spoke to police today was definitely the best. It’s a shame we live in a world where the gathering of eight elected leaders of big important countries means throwing a security blanket over every road within 50km. The first group seemed more like traffic cops and I hardly paused as I answered the usual questions about where I’m from and where I’m going. I don’t really count that one. The second group were more thorough, not only copying every word of my passport but searching my bag too. They didn’t do a very good job though, simply believing me that that sack was a tent, this one of clothes and the other one of dirty laundry. Had I been in a rougher mood I may have let them discover that for themselves. I was a little worried when one of them got on the walkie-talkies and was clearly talking about me, but eventually I was allowed to continue and I assumed I was now in the safe-zone. But not much later a van stopped and started to question me. They were easy to fob off by explaining that their colleagues had just inspected everything.
Group number four was slightly more serious. The guy in charge there wasn’t so much wearing a uniform as he was combat gear. The black flak jacket, ear-piece and slicked back hair. He could have been FBI for all I know. After they too had copied my passport and visa numbers I tried to ask for him to tell the rest of the security forces that I’m a good guy, but he wasn’t having a bar of it. At least I made them laugh when I told them of my walking adventure. When he asked where I was staying I pulled out my map which got them all discussing where we were right then. A minute or two later they solemnly agreed on a spot at least 8km from the intersection I could see. I’d have expected a team in charge of securing an area to know which area they are in.
So I wandered on to group five, another easy dismissal with “your colleagues spoke to me”.
By now it was clear the back roads, avoiding the scenic one right by next week’s G8 summit location, were no less patrolled than Route 230 so I figured I might as well be over there.
The sixth ones were in different clothes, possible army reservists or something. Black leather boots above the ankles and dark blue jump-suits with only a small motif on the chest. Another passport request, another explanation.
I reached the road station and found it had a huge park attached. Not only that but the park had another foreigner in it and I just had to take the opportunity to speak to him. Apart from phone calls home I haven’t spoken to a native English speaker since leaving Charles’ house four weeks ago. So Kevin, if you’re reading this, sorry if I talked a lot.
As I set up my tent on the far side of the park I noticed a cop on patrol. I heard the wooden stick (I soooo want to see someone fight with one of those) tapping along the boardwalk a few times and then it stopped and became the swishing of grass as he approached. Okura-san comes from a prefecture near Tokyo where the convenience stores all have Snickers. The fact that I know this much should tell you we got on quite well and I really enjoyed talking to him. He didn’t write anything down and apologised for all the police in the area. “No problem” I said “I understand. Many big people come here next week”. He didn’t want his photo taken but I got him to take one of me in my tent.
I know the police are doing their jobs and they are supposed to investigate suspicious people. My cousin is a cop and I’m sure he has had to deal some real idiots, so I always do my best to be polite and as helpful as possible. Apart from my lack of Alien Registration Card, I’ve nothing to worry about. But I was beginning to get tired of being suspected. I’d rehearsed the words for the next guy who wanted to look in my pack. “Ok, but it costs money. ¥1,000 please”. Okura-san changed that. He was cool.
Word of the day: ha-na-shi-masu = talk
Distance today: 46 km