November twenty ninth
Though today was the weekend, I still had to get up a bit early. So I jumped in the shower to wake up, hen Catherine had prepared me a bagel. I was just able to gobble it up before Reiko picked me up. We were driving, which was good because it looked like it might rain. When we got to Kompao Reiko and some of the others set up. Then Reiko and I practiced together for a while. Once everyone had come, there were ten of us! Since each team only consists of four people, one person was designated scorekeeper, and one played referee. And of course, those positions were cycled through. I got to be the scorekeeper once. The main reasons that there were lots of people was 1. Because I was there 2. Because one of the player’s junior highschool aged daughter was there 3. Because she had brought a friend. Both of them are one their school’s volleyball team, so they were pretty good. Especially when they were practicing against each other. But of course once you add the net, and the variable of the other players, it gets harder. I know from experience! But the gameplay was great, I won some and I lost some (well my team more rather), and I think I got to be on everyone’s team at one point or another. And the whole time I had fun! It was a great last volleyball, and a great way to bring my time in Japan to an end.
By the time we were all leaving it had begun to rain. Not everybody had umbrellas, so one of the players made a nifty plastic bag hat for his son. Reiko and I were wishing we had something to cover ourselves with as we went back to the car. When we got back to Catherine’s I said a sad goodbye to Reiko. Being at her house for two weeks, and with all the sports, we had bonded a lot more than last time. And I’m sure glad. But I’ll really miss her whole family.
When I got inside I did a little more packing up before lunch. My bags were getting steadily fuller, and I was really worrying about space. I didn’t think I’d accumulated THAT much stuff! I was spared having to think about it too much by the call to lunch. I had the last piece of Costco pizza, and amazing pasta that Catherine made. They were exactly what I needed to continue packing. And pack I did. All afternoon, with little breaks of course. I pretty much finished, except for the “last minute” stuff. I stopped working just in time for us to head out the door. Catherine, Yatchan, Atsushi, Ayana, and I all went to the Yaki Niku restaurant. Since today is the twenty ninth (2= ni (に) 9=ku (く), meat=Niku (にく)) there were big discounts. That means that it’s very busy, so every table was reserved, and we had a ninety minute time slot to eat. So to make sure we got our full time, we arrived before the Restaurant was even open! But we though it was a bit embarrassing to be waiting outside the Yaki Niku on Niku no hi (肉の日 or にくのひ or meat day) so we waited in the parking lot. We didn’t have to wait long though, and when we got inside some of our food was already prepared. Of yourself the meat was raw, so we fired up the burning in the centre of the table and started cooking. While our meat cooked I had a Calpis, drank my soup, and got started on a spicy, rice, vegetable dish. And when it was ready, lots of meat! And more than one type too. It was all incredible, including the tongue! We had two sauces to dip the meat into (although only one sauce at a time), and one type of meat was specifically dipped into the second sauce, and wrapped up in a leaf spread with miso. I think that was the best! So as not to drop meat juices on myself, I sort of put the whole thing in my mouth at one time, and Catherine laughed that I looked like a gremlin.
As well as the Calpis, I also had a non-alcoholic ume (うめ or plum) wine. It was very sweet, and flavourful! I really enjoyed it. And for dessert I had a bowlful of chocolate ice cream, and shared a chocolate ice cream, cocoa-powdered treat with Ayana. I also noticed that this was the same Yaki Niku restaurant that Reiko, Machiko, Machiko’s nephew, and I came to eat on the twenty ninth of last month! So I’ve been here for month Niku no his, and I’m glad!
Before going home, we stopped at the 7/11 close to the restaurant. Yatchan and I bought some more ice cream. We also found the whiskey that Massan had made (the tv show is based on a true story). But we stuck to the ice cream for tonight. When we got home we ate it all up, and I hung out with Yat and the kids for a while as Catherine worked. The four of us watched a tv show together, then played with the kids. I told Atsushi that I was leaving tomorrow, and he looked at me very earnestly and said “I’ll really miss you,”. I’ll miss him too.
After that I pretty much finished packing, then beaded with Catherine and Ayana. It was fun, but really hard; I needed Cat’s help! It was a great second last day (although it felt like the last), and I hope that I sleep well tonight. There’s a big day tomorrow!
Japan 2014 post 58
November twenty ninth