If you've ever wondered why Shoko and I are such good friends, I think that our adventure last night illustrates it very well. I waited to post this because I wanted her to read it first and make sure she was "ok" with me putting this on line. She was. She even added some nuances to the story!
Our plan was for our final "outing" together was to be an evening at the onsen in her town --- relaxing in the baths, having a light dinner, and just hanging out. I took an afternoon train from Tokyo to her town, and then walked the 4-5 blocks to her house. It is still very hot here ... I looked at the temperature app on my phone when I got off the train. it was 98F with a "RealFeel" temperature of 106F. Ugh. By the time I got to Shoko's house, I was drenched with sweat and ready to collapse. So after sitting for a few moments to gain my composure, I took a shower to rinse off, even though our plan for the evening was to spend it at the local onsen (hot springs resort) where we would take multiple showers and scrub downs before we were through. Rather then fuss with my hair before we went there --- it was just going to get wet again --- I just combed it back and threw one of my hats over it.
Now, if you aren't familiar with how a Japanese onsen works, you check in, get towels and kimono-like cotton lounging pajamas. Then you head to the appropriate section for your gender. First order of business is to find a vacant locker to stash your big towel, pajamas, purse and, of course, all your clothes. I was most of the way through this process when Shoko looked over at me and said, in a very matter of fact tone of voice, "You really should take off your hat." Yep. There I stood, stark naked except for my hat. I then pretended to hide behind my locker door, but my locker was the top one in a stack of three so all I was hiding was mostly my shoulders. When we finally stopped laughing we went and enjoyed the multiple ways to get into hot water at this onsen. My favorite is the individual tub that's like a big ceramic cooking pot and sits in a lovely garden under the trees and open sky.
I won't go in to the entire conversation we had at dinner afterwards. It started when I had a fit of the giggles over the hat comment. It went on to reminisce about our confusion one time about leaks and leeks and how that led to another hysterical conversation about "taking a leak/leek" and how leeks resemble a certain part of male anatomy, and WikiLeaks (wikileeks?), and why is Trump, she asks, so concerned about White House leaks/leeks? We were laughing so hard, the people in the restaurant probably thought these two old ladies were nuts.
And then there was the incident on the way home. Shoko was using my phone to trying to take my picture wearing the infamous hat (and my clothes) while standing on a bridge over the local river. It was a wonderful spot. The river was lined with beautiful floating lanterns in preparation for a local festival to be held this weekend. Everything would have been fine if the damn grasshopper hadn't jumped on her ... she screamed ... and for a moment I was sure that my phone was going to go flying through the air into the river. Never mind that, as Shoko was jumping away from the hopper, she was backing into the middle of a busy street. But the fates were kind to us tonight. She held on to the phone and didn't get run over. And ever the stalwart photographer, she kept her finger on the shutter and got a burst shot with 31 pictures of my reaction to the scene in front of me.
Just a typical evening for the two of us. There's always something to laugh about ...
And just for some color ... here are a few shots of the lanterns and some of the "wild" life. :-)