It was Summer 1985. It was dusk on the day before Obon, the festival of the dead. I was in downtown Tokyo, at the intersection of Eitaibashi, with one hand on the steering wheel, I was staring blankly along the road. The traffic light soon changed, and the cars began to move slowly. While following the shadow of bridge girder, which looked like someone had drawn with a black marker pen, I tried to take a slow shutter shot with the camera.
Inside my Volvo the air-conditioning was blowing quieting, while outside the Sumida River below was shining a dazzling orange. The tank was still about half full, but as a professional photographer, I tried to ensure that I filled up each day. I finished refuelling in the petrol station that I always used, then turned back on to the road while being seen off by the young petrol attendants whose voices I somehow found refreshing.
My work for the day had finished. The summer holidays were about to start. That night I could relax and have a bath with my one-year-old daughter. After that I could have a nice cold beer. I did not need to rush in particular and drove to my home in Fukugawa.
At that moment, the unique ring tone of the car phone rang out. These days everyone takes having a mobile phone for granted, but in the mid-1980s, the only civilians who had a mobile phone were journalists and Yakuza, and those phones were either in car or came with a heavy battery carried in a shoulder bag.
I was a bit upset at how the sound broke my relaxed mood, and after checking my rear view mirror, I stopped the car and picked up the handset with my left hand. It was Mr W, another photographer, who was one year my senior.
‘Hey, Kohi, it looks like a plane has gone missing.’ I was used to suddenly hearing about incidents and accidents like this, but this time he sounded particularly serious. ‘Quick, turn on NHK.’ The works struck me like an alarm. I put the car’s gear into parking, pulled the hand-brake and then turned on the radio.
‘JAL123 on a flight from Haneda to Ōsaka appears to have vanished over Shizuoka at around 18:56.’ This was the only information and it was repeated many times.
‘I’m in Hokkaidō now,’ Mr W said in a slightly annoyed way, ‘It’s probably going to be awful, but please take care of everything.’ ‘Understood. To start of with, I will head to the editorial department,’ I answered. I then did a U-turn and went back along the road I had just come and headed towards Kagurazaka. As I passed Kayabachō I got a call from Mr T, a reporter, who wanted confirm that we would meet at the editorial department.
It was terrible. I hoped that it was all a mistake. But…
A plane crash involves the life and death of many passengers of course. If it crashed on land, then there may be some miracle of survivors. Suddenly the words of a racing driver who was a best friend of mine came to mind; ‘Sit back a little, then you can feel the flow of the rear of the car in your backside.’ I straightened my back a bit and flexed my elbows, then I held the steering wheel gently. As I muttered myself, I checked my knees were OK so it would be easy to put my foot on the brake at the traffic lights.
作家・安西水丸と写真家・小平尚典が旅した懐かしい風景 サンセット通りの白いムスタング、「イージーライダー」のチョッパー、「ルート６６」のアマリロ、「ローハイド」の野宿、「ラッシー」の納屋、霧のゴールデンブリッジ、スピルビルのドボルザーク、激走アムトラック、フォート・スミスのオーロラ、「House of Blues」のフォークアート―――アメリカが大好きな僕らはよく夢を見る。