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Walking is good. Walking is an uplifting activity. It helps me encounter things, like flowers blooming on the side of the road or a charming little lost object. Or so I used to think, but one day I suddenly wanted a car. Like a second room? A mobile room of one’s own? Might not be a bad idea. I’ve always strived to be light, but I may be able to find joy in owning something big and bothersome. Observing my friends with their own cars, I note that they have all found their specific cars to satisfy their individual needs. What would be mine? I searched the city and the internet and dreamed of such a car, as the days passed without finding one.

It may have been after two years, but it (or love) suddenly came into my life. My purchase will remain a secret, but I will divulge that I found the interior of the car to be very chic, in different shades of gray. I probably rode shotgun the most when I was in elementary school when my grandfather would pick me up from my lessons. There was something that reminded me of that car—the slightly dry dustiness or the smell of the sun-worn seats.

And my car also had a cassette tape player.

Cassette tapes. I had heard that they were making a comeback amongst music aficionados. But I had just discovered Spotify. There was no turning back—or so I had thought. Thinking I might as well embrace this chance encounter and start listening to tapes, I was quickly converted.

First, I dug around for the mix tapes (made by selecting songs that I liked and hitting record on a CD cassette tape deck, yielding a unique tape) that I swapped with my friends in college. The ones that had gotten a lot of plays back then were now all stretched out and the sound was too; I had to rely on my memory to listen to those tunes.
My friend made this one for me back then too: a special mix with SMAP on side A and Kyōhei Tsutsumi (a songwriter of popular idol music) on side B. Hi-Tec-C ballpoint pens with thin tips were the best for writing on tape labels.
My friend’s band made this and gave it to me about three years ago. There is a song called Kuruma no futari (A couple in a car) and listening to it in the car is very much dead on.
This is something I purchased recently. It’s from the ‘90s but because it was brand new and unopened, the sound is very (although that has its limits) good.
This is another recent purchase. I only came to like Yuki Saito, Wink, and ZARD after becoming a grown woman. I am told that the song “AXIA” was a song used in a commercial for a cassette tape of the same name. A classic hit.

One from her who recently had happy news. Listening to recent music like this on tape can be confusing. But that is sometimes also good.

Noisily sticking a cassette tape into the player and riding the streets while listening to music that sounds like it’s hollow in the middle, I’m overcome with a feeling that I’ve always been riding this car. I wonder if my parents kept their Mariya Takeuchi, Tatsuro Yamashita, and Yumi Arai tapes. I’m going to have to ask next time I’m home.

Written & Photographed by Natsuko Yoneyama / Graphic, Editorial Designer