Cyclogeography 5: Somewhere in Asia

Miyadera & Horinouchi, Saitama, Japan

When I was younger I used to watch re-runs of the stylish 60s TV cop series The Man From Uncle. Still like watching them now. Occasionally, a pre-sequence of an episode would typically begin with someone pursing someone with deadly intent and usually  in the middle of an uncultivated environment. Then, a screen title appears, ‘Somewhere in Africa’. Such vagueness with geographical referencing I found outlandish yet fascinating and original. When I get occasionally lost though usually not being pursued with deadly intent while cycling, that peculiar TV graphic reference springs to mind.

On this particular hot afternoon I wasn’t lost. I was drifting around Miyadera, a remote countryside area in Iruma shi, Saitama. Getting off the overbearing 179 road, I ventured into a quiet residential area. The look, the feel, the smell of the area was very scenic. I passed a closed post office, a closed independent grocery store, a closed hair salon and a closed petrol station. What was even more peculiar was the fact that I seemed to be the only person in the vicinity. The only thing in motion. Time was standing still yet I was allowed to move. The desolateness was most intriguing. I got off the ‘birdy’ and panned this experience. I waited a little, still nothing. I cycled back down to the main road, all the time, looking back, but still not a soul in sight.


Both effects put into audacity, amplified with echo. Details below from sound authors.

Howling wind effect: A doctored vocal imitation of a cold howling wind. Recorded using a Blue Yeti USB microphone. includes reverb and light stereo panning effectsCrickets: A minute of raw audio of night wildlife in Callahan, Florida. Crickets more or less dominate the ambiance.


Traffic interrupted the drift back to base. A long stretch of cars, bikes, trucks, some heavy articulated trucks were building up, clogging the 179. Many of the vehicles were too close to the curb so I dismounted the bike and walked for a while on the pavement slowly passing the steadily moving traffic. Down a few winding roads, I could see the turn-off in the distance. A small battered drive way on an incline caught my eye along the way. I noticed an old Showa house practically in ruins at the end of the drive. My eyes lit up instantly. I strolled down the drive way as though I lived there. Anyone watching me from the traffic would have thought so. Anyway, I was now on public property, I considered what to say in the event of being greeted by a person bearing a frown emerging from the front door entrance, holding a shotgun (as if!).  Fortunately, no one seemed to be around but a pair of old grey trousers on a rusty metal hanger hanging outside suggested a presence. Obscured from the drive way view was another ruin of a house but this one had much more character. This one was my cup of tea. It was connected to a structure I couldn’t work out. A workhouse of some kind. The protecting outer layers of wood had completely deteriorated. What was left were a chaotic assembly of upright rotting beams with buckets, bottles, ubiquitous yellow plastic crates and other nondescript ephemeral articles poking out of the weeds and brambles. Looking at this spectacle made me think if this were a human body, then I would be observing static internal organs. I sketched some of the outline but then re-positioned myself. Over the next few weeks I would return to this very spot. However, I’ve not been back to the area in Miyadera though. That picture of emptiness and abandonment still resonates in my mind.


Horinouchi, Tokorozawa Shi, Saitama Ken (2016)






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