I step out onto the almost deserted street outside the Hotel Granvia and start to walk. The morning warmth is the only jacket I need, the quiet and humidity settling comfortably around my bare shoulders.
In spite of my best efforts to fool my jet lag by getting onto Japan time this morning, I was wide awake by 4 am. The breakfast room at the hotel wouldn’t be open until 6:30 so I read a few chapters of Memoirs of a Geisha, showered, dressed, and then decided to see who else might be around this early on a Wakayama Sunday morning.
My hotel is located in a faintly worn-looking business district of lowrise shops and restaurants, and somewhat higher rise hotels and apartments. None of the businesses have opened their shuttered eyes yet. The young woman in business clothes hustling along the street towards me, her hair slightly tousled and her sunglasses firmly in place in spite of the overcast skies, looks as though she wishes the night had been longer. So does the young father up ahead, holding a plastic bag with a few groceries while his two preschool children skip along beside him. A robust senior, pumping his arms during his morning constitutional, wishes me good morning in English, and thanks me for my return greeting.
I soon run out of sidewalk in one direction so double back towards the hotel, peering at the contents of curbside vending machines and appreciating the trust of a grocery owner who left out a few bags of produce overnight. I feel strangely comforted by boxes of petunias, so similar to the ones I watered at home in my garden right before I left Edmonton yesterday.
It’s still not time for breakfast yet so I continue past the hotel and circle the bus and taxi roundabout in front of it. Last night, a mostly in tune boy band were hawking their new CD, a few middle-aged women filming them on their phones while teenage girls in short skirts, ruffled ankle socks and wedged sandals stood prominently in front. This morning, the only people around are two or three cabbies leaning together on one of their cars and a few people standing in a tidy queue waiting for a bus.
By this time, my stomach is starting to growl so I figure if I walk slowly for one more block, I should just about arrive back at the hotel for breakfast room openimg. A young man, enjoying the lack of traffic, rounds the corner too fast on a motor scooter that buzzes like an angry hornet. A grey haired woman wearing a white broadbrimmed hat and elbow-length white gloves pedals her bicycle slowly past. A group of adolescents in green and white school uniforms with matching bike helmets stream by in pairs and disappear.