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.