Somewhere in Nishi-Tama, two hours from downtown Tokyo by train and local bus. Hiking along a stream I see the color of something man-made, half buried under fallen branches and leaves. Then I see the pattern. It can't be... A soft vinyl monster toy, apparently vintage, all the way out here.
Feelings a mixture of the bemusement of Al Pachino in Godfather III ("Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in") and the awe of Nausicaa encountering the husk of the Ohmu deep in the Sea of Corruption. I begin excavating. Empty eye sockets and toothy grin appear, like a Toy Story sequel gone horribly wrong.
Eleking. From the 1967 series "Ultraseven." Body filled with mud and cracked from years of exposure. I flip it and rub dirt off the base of the foot. The circular mark is unmistakable: Marusan, the show's first licensor. Is this an original edition? Out comes the iPhone for a quick scan of recent Yahoo auctions. How did a thousand-dollar toy end up here? Impossible to tell with this much damage. Left behind after a picnic decades ago to moulder here by the riverside? Hurled out of a car window in a fit of childhood pique, its original owner now probably older than I am?
I consider taking it back for forensic analysis but then decide to replace it back in the underbrush where I found it, hoping another toy freak finds it decades hence...