SECTION 2

My first chore was to find customs in the overheated/undercooled airport. The heat and humidity in the herding room also reminded me of the boiler house. At a certain degree, the body does not perspire; it sweats.

close-
the inspector finds nothing,
not a single ku

It had been a mighty long time since the sun had come up, and it was just now going down. I was in another plane, this one a Japan Air System 737. The plane had no first class section in front of us, and no other frills, except on the scarves two lovely flight attendants wore. One of the attendants offered me an English language newspaper, but I could not have read anything at that point. The plane turned to the left and I caught sight of a deep green hilly land in the blue/gray haze of dusk.

Hiromi Inoue, member of Shiki team, met me. I could tell by the look on his face that he had no trouble recognizing me as the behemoth with a straw hat and a wooden cane. My greatest need was for something to drink, for the stop at Osaka had sapped me, and there was nothing at all on the flight to Matsuyama. Hiromi kindly bought me a bottle of orange juice.

Hiromi & Tim

We drove something less than an hour to Hiromi's home. I'm afraid I was operating at a high level on the scale of incoherence, at least 8, maybe 9. I met Hiromi's wife and son, then went to bed.

how long ago
did you plant this rose-of-sharon
so it would bloom
so whitely
for me tonight?

In the morning, Saturday, I had breakfast with Hiromi and his son, whose full name I had not actually caught the evening before. I'd heard only enough to decide I would call him Tom. He spoke what may have been his first English to a stranger: "Pleased to meet you." Not so bad, Tim and Tom. Hiromi said he thought we might make a good Tom & Jerry. In any case, Tom is six years old, an extraordinarily handsome child.

Tom & Tim

first day
in the country
my hair goes wherever it wants

There was far more food on the breakfast table than I usually see at home, even on a good day. I had scrambled eggs, sausage links, orange juice, coffee, home-made bread, and I know I've forgotten that much more. White chunks of pear, for instance, and Concord grapes. Although I usually have just two pieces of toast, some juice, and a coffee, I ate as much as I could in order to be sociable. That it was dinner time at home probably helped.

It's a good thing I ate so much. I knew we were going to travel by bus to see the Shimanami bridges, but I did not understand how long the tour would last. I thought it would be somewhere between two and three hours at most. Hiromi took me to a rail station in Matsuyama City. He introduced me to Kim, another member of Shiki team, who would be my translator for the day. When she had first heard from Hiromi how big I am, she requested two seats for me on the bus. Anyway, somebody gave me a pink ribbon/badge which I pinned on the front of my hat and wore throughout my stay in Japan. When a young television reporter introduced himself to me through Kim, explaining that he was there to cover my participation in the kukai, and sat down directly behind me, I got a little nervous about all the respectful attention.

Tim & Kim

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