Japan Day 6 and part of 7.

We woke on our last full day ready to go. Plans had been flipflopping all week. Dinner with M’s parents, lunch with the parents, lunch with Dad, dinner with Mom…by Friday it had been nailed down. And actually, I like the way it turned out. We walked up the street through the neighborhood and went to M’s parents’ home, around a quarter of a mile away. Mom was home, as she worked evenings, and that was why dinner had been nixed. Also at home was M’s Grandmother, an elderly but sprite woman. The house was very modern looking. Buying land is expensive in Tokyo, but after that, it’s not as pricey to build as it is in the United States. A lot more people have their homes custom made for them without it breaking the entire bank…the land does that on its own.
We removed our shoes and climbed the stairs to the living room/dining room area. The rooms were small but cozy, and we sat on couches while M’s mother made and served us tea and small snacks. I was thrilled. This was way better than everyone in a restaurant, I got to see another home of a family in Japan! M translated for us back and forth, and soon, Grandma showed up from the upper floor. She sat at a chair in the dining area and interjected here and there, but mostly just listened with a smile on her face. I offered them one of my glass dishes as a gift, so conversation moved to how I made it, then back to housing, real estate, and other relatively simple conversations. I asked about a collection of dolls over the piano, and before I knew it, we were off to go have lunch. We went downstairs and put our shoes back on. M’s Mom was coming with us as she had a dance lesson scheduled, which was why she wasn’t coming along for lunch. Grandma followed us all the way down the stairs and out the door to the front gate, and kept waving and saying goodbye. She seemed really happy we came to visit so I kept calling “Bye bye!” until we were out of site around the corner.
We walked to the shopping area near the trains and entered a small building. Dad’s office. M’s sister was there, who I have been helping the past few months, shipping things from the US to her to sell in her Dad’s store. It was great to see the face and the world of the person I had been helping from afar. Dad led us to a restaurant nearby and we all sat together at a larger table. Lunch was sushi, and man….oh man….was it EVER.
The first thing that appeared in front of us was snails. Giant sea snails, coiled inside shells. One plunged a toothpick down inside them and pulled them out, several inches long. Later, we found out her Dad was testing us with that, to see what we’d eat. He likes them, so wanted to see what we would do. DLJ and I just popped them down, they tasted sort of like soy sauce to me, but not overpowering at all.
They ordered us some tempura, which was lovely, but oh….the fish. So much lovely stuff. I ordered some of my usuals in order to compare them, but Dad did most of the ordering, which was fine with me.
Every now and then, a chef in the next room would ring a large bell. What he was doing was making a recommendation of a certain fish. After ringing the bell, he would take a net and catch the fish from a large tank behind him. One of these recommendations was taken by Dad, and I tell you…I had sushi within ten minutes of it swimming around. Holy cats.
We were stuffed. I wish I could have gone on…it was so delicious. I was in food heaven. M continued her role as interpreter and we talked about food, life, and my glass. They are interested in my glass for their store, but there is only one of me, so production churn isn’t something I can handle. Still…it’s a possibility.
We left, barely able to walk, so that Dad and sis could get back to work. J, M and I ambled our way on to go shopping, DLJ was looking for his own souvenir. We bought some postcards, and kept looking. I was getting very tired, shopping is not my strongpoint in the first place, and I was worried about M, 8 months pregnant. We went back to their little neighborhood and stopped at a crazy clothes shop and of course, bingo, DLJ found something right there that he liked. We all stumbled home to relax as the sun went down, then wandered out for our last dinner in Japan. I gathered all my photos into a photo album in ITunes and we watched them, played with Mu and just sat up talking late while we started packing.
Saturday, we got up and got breads and treats for the plane, then took the local train to the main station, hanging out for an hour in a shop while we waited for the next train to Narita airport. This train also was covered by our train pass, which was such a good deal for the week we were there. And then M and J walked us to the train, we got on, and waved through the windows. It was sad to say goodbye. J is more isolated than I knew, living in Japan. In my head he had more of a social life, either friends of M’s or other foreigners, but in reality, it’s a quiet existence. Of course, that will be blown to part in a matter of weeks with the arrival of their first child. But I am glad we could spend time with him, reconnect him with friends and having folks to relate to within easy reach. I hope they come to visit us in Portland some day…and maybe, if we are lucky, we will enjoy ourselves with a drink in the backyard that feels like a meadow in comparison to the small plots in Japan, as our kids run around together, laughing and sharing time together because the parents stayed in touch and remained friends.
Our trip was amazing because of M and J. We saw more, experienced more, ate more, and knew so much more because of their invaluable input and willingness to share ideas, time, and even a little money. I cannot imagine what our trip would have been without them. Fun, interesting, but a completely different experience.We can’t thank them enough for sharing their home with us. I only wish Mu hadn’t gotten so sick and left them, so quickly after we did. But at the same time, I think it made it a little easier for them to grieve after, as they weren’t alone. We had known Mu and had just been there with them, DLJ even had some pictures, the last ones taken of her. They shared their lives with us, and in return we could help them share their pain.
No pictures this time, I still have so many to process….but I didn’t take many the last days…however, I will post the last one I took of J and M as we left on the train soon.

2 thoughts on “Japan Day 6 and part of 7.

  1. The food sounds amazing. I used to go to a Mongolian restaurant in Oxford where you took the ingredients to the chef yourself. One day we’ll go to Japan :)

  2. Ya, we are going to have to find the same sort of thing here now, we are kinda hooked. Even if they don’t have tongue. ;)

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