「A Land Without Borders」 —Designated Area— (「城壁のない国」 ("Jōheki no Nai Kuni") —Designated Area—) is the first chapter of the third volume of Kino's Journey —the Beautiful World—.
As Kino and Hermes travel along a road they come across a cluster of tents set up in a field with animals being tended by people. They are nomads who have made the field their current living site. She requests to stay with them for her recreational 3 day stay.
While in the site Kino notices that all the adults of the tribe smoke a pipe of grass nearly constantly. While speaking with the chief in his tent, the smoke becomes so heavy she requests to step out for fresh air. While outside she is approached by a man named Rauher. He confirms with her that she's the traveler that just arrived and casually notes that while many of the others think she is a man, he knows she's a girl.
The next day Kino rises at dawn to the surprise of some of the tribeswomen. When she says that this is normal for her, they reply that it's a very good thing. That day Kino is experiencing the culture of the tribe and meets the children. Through the children Kino learns that both men and women in the tribe have specific tasks and roles assigned to them and their marriages are arranged and determined at birth. They travel and return to that field each year to harvest grass, but only adults have the right to smoke it.
In the afternoon the chief invite her to try riding a horse and instructs her on how to do so. Kino learns quickly and proves very skilled at riding. Meanwhile the chief and adults nearby are very impressed by her and mention that "it's decided" as Rauher looks on from afar.
Kino meets Rauher again and she asks him if he was once a traveler as well which he confirms. He then asks her where she plans to settle down. Kino replies that she intends to continue travelling for a long time. She also notes that he doesn't appear to be a born member of the tribe. He doesn't answer and parts.
On the third day Kino prepares to leave, but the chief and adults urge her to stay longer. The chief implores her to dine with them saying that they rarely have guests and a large feast was planned for her. The women suggest to begin preparations immediately to eat in the afternoon so that Kino may partake as well and Kino agrees to the meal.
During the meal Kino is passed a cup of tea by one of the women and Kino comments that it has a unique aroma and asks what type of tea it is. The woman is startled and stutters that it has no name, but it's a good tea. At this Kino declines the cup of tea without a sip, saying that it seems too strong for her. She thanks them for her hospitality but must be on her way. As she makes her way out of the tent, she quickly turns to counter a woman who was about to bring a club down on her head.
The tribe is now on their feet and attempt to capture her. She manages to escape the tent unharmed but she is ambushed by another man and realizes in dismay that she's out of bullets. In good luck the man who ambushed her is Rauher who turns out to be an ally. He ushers her into his tent where Hermes was waiting. Kino asks Rauher why he helped her.
Rauher says that the tribe was attempting to assimilate her into the clan. He explains that for as long as the tribe had existed it would always assess the usefulness of travelers they came across and if they were deemed useful, they'd be forcibly assimilated. The ones who were not would be killed.
The grass that the adults smoked was a plant with a strong poison that causes maddening addiction. Once addicted one would have to smoke it everyday otherwise they'd go insane and die painfully from withdrawal symptoms in 10 days. They would trick travelers they deemed worthy of taking in by having them drink a tea made from the poison grass. The traveler would be knocked out from the poison and bedridden in pain for days. During that time the traveler would be placed in a tent that is constantly smoked with the grass so when they awoke they'd be fully addicted and have no choice but to live within the tribe or die from withdrawal. Rauher was one such unfortunate traveler.
While Rauher was bedridden a woman from the tribe tended to him and pleaded with him not to die. In the end he decided to live with them and that woman was arranged to be his wife. She was a good wife and it was the happiest time of his life, but in the previous year his wife had a miscarriage and couldn't have children afterwards. The tribe deemed her worthless since she could no longer bear children and killed her. Rauher decided he would end their suffering.
Soon a clansman discovers Kino hiding in Rauher's tent and others follow. The two step outside to find themselves surrounded but before they can attack a tent behind them explodes into flames. The tribesman realize that the tent that exploded was the one used to store all the grass. Rauher had rigged it to explode by borrowing some gunpowder and other tools from Hermes earlier.
Kino, Hermes and Rauher watch as the adults immediately forget them and rush to put out the fire but their attempts are futile. Many burned to death trying to put it out. Others suffocated from the intense poisonous smoke from the grass, while others purposely inhaled as much as they could in their panic and die from the smoke inhalation. Very soon all the adults who hadn't burned to death began going mad from their addiction and started to massacre each other. The chief and a few other adults stagger towards them, but Rauher kills them before they can reach Kino. He says to the chief that perhaps things would have been different if they hadn't murdered his wife a year ago.
Once the event has settled, Rauher explains that this was now the end of the adults who smoked the grass but it was not the end of the tribe. The children who are still clean from addiction have a chance at life. In the remaining 10 days he has to live he would explain to them the terrible system of the adults, their mistakes, and teach them how to care for the animals and themselves so that they may live freely. Once the children witness his death from the grass addiction, they would understand what a horrible substance it is and what a terrible system the adults had.
As Kino prepares to depart she gives him her sincere thanks for saving her in a bind. Rauher suddenly says that it was because she resembled his wife. They didn't look similar but Kino's eyes were just like his wife's and he bids her farewell.
Once Kino and Hermes are gone, Rauher makes his way to the tent where the children were hiding and completely ignorant of what just transpired. Before he can explain what happened a lone surviving adult suddenly runs a sickle through his throat in his last moments. Both of them die without uttering a word.
The children in shock and fear begin to cry. Once they've finished crying they gather to decide what to do. Since the adults are dead, they realize that they are the adults now and decide to take on the work and roles left to them.They rummage through the site for tools, and find a stash of grass that the chief had kept secretly in his tent. One of the children realizes that this was the grass the adults smoked and although some believed that they oughtn't touch it since it's for adults, another child points out that now THEY are the adults. Thus the children filled some pipes, and began to smoke the grass.
- In this chapter Kino being mistaken for a male plays a large role in the tribe's decision to assimilate her. The tribe appears to be modeled some hunter gatherer tribes of the past wherein certain skills were assigned to men, and horseback riding was highly valued as well as early rising for good time management. She was at first "appraised" on her value based as a male, of course when it's discovered that she is female her "appraisal" would be lifted even higher since she can also bear children which is essential for small nomadic groups such as this.