My father was stationed in Tokyo immediately after the war. As I was growing up, he sometimes teased me and my three brothers by telling us we had three Japanese half-brothers. When I gave him the news that I was going to Japan, he told me to see if I could find these three brothers. After the bus ride, my hosts took me to a small coffee shop for a moment of calm before the reception planned for the winners of the Shimanami haiku contest, assorted dignitaries and minor luminaries connected with the Shimanami Haiku Conference, survivors of the bus ride, and me, the last person in the world to find out Hiromi had won 1st prize.
Anyway, the waiter in the coffee shop was a young man well over six feet tall. He was thin and a little gawky, very much like a Japanese version of one of my own sons, Ivan. Before I left Japan, I sent my father a post card to inform him that I did not find any of my brothers, but that one of my nephews was living in Matsuyama City.
The reception was short, sweet, and snappy. Almost everyone stood, but I sat. An important government official said a few words. I know he was important because he had half a dozen body-guards in attendance. I think he was the governor of Ehime Prefecture.
Mayor of Matsuyama City Lee Gurga & Kaneko Tohta
Kimiyo Tanaka brought me a plate of several kinds of fruit and two bits of some unrecognizable something she more or less challenged me to try. She told me it was "devil's tongue," but I think it may have come from the other end of him. It did not taste so bad, but the texture of it was not the least bit appetizing. I thought I might find "Goodyear" or "Toyo" stamped on its underside. Kim told me it was some kind of plant, but I think she meant some kind of artificial plant.
Three women all about my age discovered I had won some kind of haiku prize and gathered round to practice their interrogation skills in English. I wrote out a copy of the winning poem, and one of them remarked that it was very simple in a tone of voice that betrayed her disappointment. I guess she was hoping for something with a little more "thinkability."
a tree frog holds
the front door closed