I'm writing from Narita Airport Terminal number 2, Starbucks. We're on our way home; and Laura is sad. I'm sad, too, but relieved that we've arrived safely here, with our mountains of luggage and that we're on time. Chad is a bit under the weather. I can't find my "Airborne;" so we bought him mysterious cold medicine at the airport pharmacy. I hope he'll feel better.
We would have felt sad yesterday, after our trip to the 7th floor of Yokohama Station's Takashimaya Department Store to buy presents. However, we met Maya and had glamorous "cake sets" high in the nearby Sheraton Hotel. In Japan, I get nervous in these high buildings; but I have to admit that the earth didn't move at all. Kami-sama, arigatou. She told us about the recording sessions planned for today and tomorrow. It's amazing that she already has a Sony recording contract--amazing not because she doesn't deserve it but because such success rarely happens so quickly. Based on the performances we've heard, we agree with Sony that she's more than deserving.
We then wended our way back to Maita Station, to be met by our former Yokohama neighbor Mrs. Furuya. She took us to an "izakaya" nearby, one called Touno (Kanji are "far" plus "field".. It's named after a place north of Tokyo, in Ibaragi Prefecture, I think. Inside it was all dark wood, cheery noise, and Daikan Plaza (the name of our apartment building) neighbor, came to join us as well. Akina, Maya, Laura--all these girls have grown up to be so beautiuful and accomplished. We ate mushrooms and "basashi" with garlic and eggplant and yakitori and" o-chazuke" while drinking Kirin and rare northern "rei-shuu."
We hardly felt like packing after returning to ryokan. I went to sleep right away, waking up at 3:30 to take one last "ofuro" bath and get my luggage together. Laura was apparently up much of the night, doing laundry in the ryokan's little machines on the first floor.
The last few days of the trip have been about friendship. On Sunday we sang in Union Church, filled with nice people even though it's not our cup of tea, theologically speaking. Unable to reach Mrs. Furuya by phone, we took bus 11 to Nakamaru and went to our old building to knock on her door. Miraculously, she was at home. Phone calls hadn't reached her because her phone number had changed. Sunday evening we met Mrs. Honda and her family members, daughter Akiko Honda, daughter and son-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Washio, plus grandchildren Rei, Shota, and Taku for a blow-out dinner in Chuuka-gai Chinatown, at the Saeko Shin-kan. Huge amounts of divine food of all kinds. Mrs. Honda introduces Laura and me to people by saying, "We've been friends for 20 years." How grateful we are that she feels that way. She is still, "My mother in Japan."
Trying to remember other things before my coins run out. Laura and Chad went up to Tokyo one more time to see Maya while I did internet. We had sushi and "oo-roku jizake" at a new place near Sakuragi-cho Station, everything recommended by a charming and knowledgeable waitress. Chad has said that he wonders why more people don't know that eating great food is a good reason to visit to Japan.
In a way I hadn't expected, bringing Chad to Japan has helped cement Laura's and my connection to Japan and Yokohama, partly because he's so enthusiastic and open-minded, and partly because he has now seen the places Laura has talked about for so long. All our friends notice his beautiful speaking voice, admire his height (though young Japanese are definitely getting taller), and congratulate me (me!) on getting such a fine son-in-law. Chad is now connected to Japan in somewhat the same way that Laura has become connected to the farm in Lamoni.
I think this is the last blog entry from Japan proper, though there will be more as we sort through our memories after returning home. Also, I hope to add some of the photos Laura and Chad have taken.