Day 2 in Takamatsu, September 23
In my new household, I quickly realized that, as I had expected, there are many formalities that need to be observed. In addition, each member it seems, has a traditional role in the household.
I woke up early (around 6:00), because I was still somewhat out of sorts due to my trip. It was a slightly cloudy morning with some light rain. It had rained harder during the night so the air had a slight chill.
I came downstairs to find that Chiharu-san was already up and busy in the kitchen preparing what was to be my first breakfast in my new house with the family. Takao-san woke up shortly after I came downstairs. When I entered I was greeted by an enthusiastic, “Ohayoo gozaimasu,” which I returned in kind. I was quickly offered ocha, Japanese tea, and was invited to sit. Takao joined me and we chatted a bit. I had come down dressed ready to play soccer. The previous night I had been informed that Takao was a soccer coach at the local elementary school and that he was going to be hosting a soccer camp that morning, but since it had rained all night, we believed it to be cancelled. Soon Ryunosuke-kun also joined us and everyone gave him a good morning as well which he returned with an “Ohayoo gozaimasu” and a curt bow. Ayano-san was still asleep and would be for a while that Sunday. As I have discovered, the household has a very busy schedule during the week, so the weekend provides much needed rest. Breakfast was soon served. “Itadakimasu!”
(I will add a picture soon, I don’t have to correct cord with my now)
It consisted of some white rice, miso soup (broth with seaweed, tofu, and a thin slice of lime), some pieces of fried bean curd with some dried fish shavings on top whose exact name I cannot remember now, cooked mushrooms, cooked peppers from their garden, and some tomato slices. Quite different from the standard American breakfast right? Ever wonder why so many Americans struggle with their weight?…
…It was delicious, which of course I stated during the meal. Upon completion, “Oshisoosama deshita!”
Takao received a phone call and we were soon hustling to get ready. Apparently the soccer camp was NOT cancelled. In a couple of minutes we were both ready to go. As we walk out the door, “Itte kimasu,” Takao says. In resonse Chiharu says, “Itterashai!”
When we get to the school, I couldn’t actually see the school. We walked down an alleyway, took a turn and then another turn, walked through a gate, and then I saw the school. It was surrounding the schoolyard, which consisted of a kind of sandy material, and what I saw then was very surprising to me. About 30 people scattered about the soccer “field” with rags, towels, buckets, and rake-looking tools. They were soaking up the water and squeezing it into the buckets. The people with the “rakes” were moving the water as one would roll the water off an outdoor tennis court. I was amazed and the display of dedication and teamwork. Takao and I soon joined with rags in hand. We were joined by a co-worker of Takao’s, Nakamura-san. After about 30-40 minutes, we were finished and soon, the students had arrived. When the camp started, I helped Takao at one of the stations by receiving the balls passed my way so that I could in turn, pass them to Takao, who was passing it to the kids so that they could shoot for the two cones that were set up. Then afterward there were some mini games, during which I practiced my juggling, and then we were done and homeward bound.
The bath was already prepared for us when we got back. Afterward, we went to an Udon shop for lunch so that I could try Kagawa’s famous udon noodle soup. It was delicious! After that, we went home again, and Takao and I left again, on bikes this time. We went to the mall so that we could investigate phone possibilities.
The mall we went to is not what you would expect. As we were biking down the street, I see up ahead the road turning into a tile-paved path, with a high, arching roof overhead of it, with bike and foot traffic going in and out. We soon entered ourselves, on our bikes. It was amazing! There was pleasant, traditional Japanese music playing softly overhead, and shops lining the pathway with people outside advertising their wares and handing out flyers enthusiastically. There were no people dressed in chicken suits or Statues of Liberty’s, or anyone spinning signs around.
(Will post picture soon)
Will Takao as my voice and ears, we discovered that my phone options for now were worse than my international phone plan from Verizon because of my short term necessity. So we headed back and I took a much needed nap until about 6:00. That night, we were going to a Japanese-style BBQ restaurant!
On our way, we pick up Nakamura-san and continue on toward our destination. The restaurant was beautiful on the inside and quite small. Only one other group was there, but I never once realized until we were leaving. Each dining location is surrounded by shoji, Japanese-style sliding doors. We removed our shoes and headed for a nice location in the corner of the restaurant. I thought that we would be kneeling for dinner because I saw mats surrounding the one-foot-high table. But then as I sat down, I realized that the table was set in a dropped floor. The grills were already lit and ready to go, so as soon as we sat down and our drinks had arrived, it was not three minutes before our first round of raw meat arrived. First up was what I believed to be heart, cut into small bite-size pieces, waiting for us to put on one of the two grills set on the table. Each person has their own dipping sauce and bowl of rice. Next was steak, then little mini hot dogs, then intestine, and then tongue. The chef also came to visit us and had delivered a special treat, smoked salmon. The skin and bones where still there, but it was smoked in such a way that you can eat it all together. It was also delicious. Course after course arrived until we were all full. During the meal, Takao, Nakamura, and I had continuously filled and refilled our little sake glasses from a small vase of hot sake, which was continuously refilled by our very attentive server. If for some reason she was unavailable, there was a button in the middle of the table that could be pressed at any time to summon her. After the main course, dessert was ordered. Ice cream with Kahlua, a mixed chocolate and vanilla ice cream bowl, and sweet pudding-style tofu. Finally, we were finished. Ryunosuke and Ayano were nearly asleep in a food coma with their heads down on the table, Nakamura’s face was quite red from the alcohol and was done drinking, and Takao and I were finishing the remaining sake. Chiharu was ready to drive everyone home.
We were done. I offered to pay, but of course, I was refused. Once we were home, the family bathed, but I declined and went straight to bed. I was very tired. It had been a looooong day. But it had also been an amazing day full of new experiences and challenges. I am really beginning to love Japan!
The next day was about to be even more busy! I’ll post about it tomorrow. Sayonara!