A mid-length work in which 33-year-old Ippei remembers the events of an aimless road trip he made on a used 50 cc motorbike when he was a freshman in college. It was 14 years ago, shortly after the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. Heading northeast out of Tokyo, he happened to visit some of the places most seriously affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant disasters that took place a decade later on and after March 11, 2011.
The story begins three days into his trip, when he is thrown off the motorcycle into a rice paddy due to a gear-shifting error he makes on the bike he’d purchased only a month before. Having started his trip with no particular destination in mind, he wants only to go somewhere far away where he’s never been. He travels as the spirit moves him, without planning where he will stay. The narrative recounts the random encounters and incidents that occur in the course of such a journey, interweaving them with other recollections from his school days before and after the trip, as well as his more recent years as a working man with a wife and child?leaping by association from one event to another without regard for chronological order. The nature of memory, including its limitations and unreliability, emerges as a recurrent theme as his thoughts take him back to his art-teacher girlfriend Fusako, with whom he’d been involved since after high school; his classmate Shinnosuke, whose sights were set on becoming a movie director; his exchanges with men he encountered on his journey; and so forth.
Throughout, music and sounds play an important role in awakening memories: Jimi Hendrix’s Fire, which Ippei plays before throwing his guitar into a blazing fire; the drumming with which a dreadlocked man he meets fills gaps in their conversation; a stranger strumming a ukulele in a cemetery in the rain . . . The chain of linked memories and recollections that make up a life are summoned by and replayed to the accompaniment of diverse strains of music in this highly distinctive novella.