The Wife, her Roomate, and the Husband

Numata, Japan. People sometimes have the weirdest living arrangements… or, sometimes, uncommon marriages too. Since my arrival in Numata, Ross and I had been having conversations about his musician friend Kelly. He had told me Kelly lived with his wife, her roomie, and Shoichi the little one. Now, I do not know about you folks, but a husband, a wife, and her roommate sounds like something suspiciously triangular to me. I felt like prying a bit but the right words eluded me. After all, the guy is a rock star and the wife comes from Brazil which is, as you well know, hot hot hot…

On Sunday night, after the Nikko trip, we would all meet at an izakaya for dinner and I would finally meet the two women in Kelly’s life.

When I am asked how Japanese people live, I do not know what to answer. I can pretty much tell you how a Canadian goes about his life in Numata, but Japanese people remain an enigma. All windows have opaque curtains so you cannot peak into their private space (no lack of trying on my part) and if you go to a restaurant, you end up being separated by a curtain or dine in a separate elevated screened room.

Entering the private room, I was surprised to see only one woman. Kelly introduced us: Nathalie, my wife, her roomie. His wife, her roomie? One person? For the last three days, I had been imagining the oddest menage a trois and it all boiled down to a wife called Harumi? Truthfully I felt a tiny bit disappointed… But Harumi proved to be a very fun dinner companion despite our language barrier.

Throughout dinner, Ross and Harumi sometimes adopted the same expressions (but I think Ross may have been committing emulation here.)

Kelly and Harumi did their very best to converse with signs and expressions so I could follow.

Monsieur Ross sat comfortably in his Prometheus shirt, acting very cool and controlled contrarily to Harumi and I.

He ordered the little shrimps you eat whole and while they may not look like much, they are delicious and not to be missed under any circumstances.

The dinner progressed with Kelly grabbing my camera and Ross making a demonstration of… either a religious ritual or how to chop a particular kind of meat. I could not tell you for sure but he seems definitely quite inspired.

This demented-looking man is the owner of the izakaya, Kei Chan. I took this photograph doing my rounds in the restaurant.

This friendly man showing off his skewers is Kei Chan’s faithful cook.

Kei Chan is also a magician and he came into our cabana to perform some tricks.

Ross appeared very interested, acting as skillful assistant too, but knew a lot of the magic and showed me later. After Kei Chan left, Harumi reclined on the floor and made faces. Harumi is a lightweight. Two sips of beer and happiness flows. I think this is what they called “meeting your match!”

As Kelly explained in one of his posts, musicians can be jocks too.

I surmise this was a case of “putting your money where your mouth is!”

And succumbing to the weight on his shoulders…

By this time of the evening, both men are calm and collected, and basically Harumi and I are, as we say in Belgium, “sur le toit” (on the roof.)

This is Harumi sur le toit.

Sur le toit, that’s generally when I let people take my picture.

And Ross wonders how he ended up with such a monkey woman. I think he may even have called me a baboon. The look on his face speaks for itself. (That was Kelly’s favorite photograph.)

Then we took photographs of all our feet (except for the feet of Sir Ross who was not in the mood for toe display.) Suddenly the reasons behind the need for an enclosed private space made a whole lot more sense to me. We left shortly after. Foot photography is always a tell-tale sign that all good things must come to an end.

Walking back to the house, I took this photograph of a man preparing the newspapers for the next day. He showed a bit of surprise at the sight of me entering his office. Ross, while very supportive of the idea, declined to follow me inside.

This is my Numata apple. I unfortunately dropped it. A gift from Harumi, it did not survive the walk home. Numata apples are famous and I can attest to their deliciousness thanks to the roomie. Apples are produced with great care in Japan with growers plucking the leaves off each apple to ensure balanced sunlight. Some of these practices have been discontinued to respond to the US competition after American apples were introduced on the Japanese market in 1995 at a much lower price. (sigh)

Numata apples are collected from more than 100 orchards and are integral part of the culture. A typical Japanese family outing is to spend time picking apples in a farm.

I did not go pick fruit in Numata.

13 responses to “The Wife, her Roomate, and the Husband

  1. Damn. You can even take pictures of trash in the street and make it look good. That’s pretty amazing! 🙂

  2. BTW…Shame on you for dropping that apple!

  3. Alan, I felt an enormous amount of shame plus the apple was really good so I was bummed out double.
    On the other hand, presenting me with any kind of gift after a night at an izakaya is not to know me very well.
    I will mention that I have been fairly good ever since.

  4. I love the misunderstanding of her name! In the saga I’m writing up now, I had a similar occurrence. My friend was reading off a phone number to a operator in Germany and I swear he was saying, “Noodle, noodle, noodle”. Actually, it’s “Null” pronounced “Noool” for the number zero. Sounded hilarious at the time I heard him say it. Of course, beer had been involved shortly before.

    -Turkish Prawn

  5. Hysterical! I wondered about the roommate situation–how bizarre!–then laughed uproariously when I realized the misunderstanding. As Turkish Prawn* said, I love it!

    * I at first thought I’d abbreviate that name, but then I realized it unlikely that anyone goes by TP given the common meaning…

  6. The truth is out of the bag! My wife has a split personality. Before a few and after a few! You either have to go with the flow or just get frustrated. I prefer the prior. Thank God the woman only drinks on a rare occasion. That was a fun night. Never thought we’d be sharing it with the whole world though LOL. If I’d have known, I wouldn’t have brought the “roommate” me with!

    Great photos again. I do know one woman who’s going to hate looking at them though.

    Hmmmmm…….. maybe some blackmail in the making here. Heh-heh.

  7. TP: I felt mildly foolish and I can’t even blame it on sake this time.

    Jason: What do you mean with TP? All I could find was Teacher’s Pet, Target Practice and one I cannot name on my blog but it is tantamount to an act of erotic aerobics (I did not even know erotic aerobics existed. Not at my gym anyway!)

    Kelly: Harumi is really not that bad but she is a light weight. I found her completely adorable and fun. Too bad we could not communicate better.
    I do not think you have any significant material for blackmail but with photoshop, it would be easily doable 😉
    I think she’ll LOVE the photos!

  8. I must confess that I was expecting something a bit more lurid. I don’t like the look in the eye of the guy with the sharp knife, he looks a bit psychotic the way he’s weilding that weapon of death….

  9. How funny and how easy to misunderstand a word or phrase.
    Not hard to understand looking at your pictures that three would be company in that couple.
    Great photos and stories.

  10. I quote: “I think it takes a special talent to make inanimate objects tell a story. I can’t do it.” I think you can do it. You made art of the apple on the street. They should give you apples with a neck strap 😉

  11. Seriously entertaining. I felt a bit tipsy just reading this! You have such a clever way of transporting us to where you’ve been.

  12. Really liked this one.

    Great story and I particularly like the shot of the friendly guy with the skewers.

  13. Tony, I totally expected something torrid and unusual. I see you share my disappointment. On the bright side, for a few seconds, I made you imagine all kinds of fun stuff, didn’t I? Don’t play innocent! I saw your Flat self look at those lurid magazines in the grocery store…

    Bonnie, I think that Kelly has his hands full with the Brazilian volcano. If another was added to the equation, husbandry would become a full-time job for Kelly (and I fear his whiskey consumption would increase dramatically – and so would that of Sir planetross.)

    Wouter: thanks. I think the only time I think of photographing objects is after sake. I don’t think anyone would believe me if i told them I needed to drink more in order to produce better photographs. I think a variation of the argument has already been used by artists in the seventies. It wouldn’t hold up in court. 😉

    Epic: thanks. I don’t think I can even reply to your comment without imagining you wearing clogs. This is disturbing.

    Razz: thanks! I think the cook appeared even friendlier with his photograph displayed right after that of his homicidal boss!

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