9/9  Well, here I am at the Ikaho onsen, (hot springs) and the past two days have been a lot of fun. Before this we went to the "Bokujo Green Farms" where I was treated to a recreation of an old west town, complete with Indian teepees, and the always exciting duck races accompanied with banjo music! The weird thing was, at this place that's totally for kids, the entire family had a great time. I found this completely baffling and unexplainable, so I won't even try . . .

Well, we sit down at this table in the hot springs hotel restaurant, and have about 20 different kinds of sashimi (raw fish) in front of EACH of us, none of which looked like a kind I would want to eat. But, knowing how expensive sashimi is, and how I figured they were trying to give me a big treat, I knew I couldn't just leave it there, so I plunged right in. Then they brought out a bunch of food to cook over the fire, and everything was going fine until the fish, which was literally still a fish. Not cut open, fresh out of the water, probably, with a skewer through his mouth and little beady eyes looking up at me. It nearly killed me to do it, but I stuck him in the fire and cooked the poor thing. Of course, it didn't make me feel any better when everyone in the family took their 'skewer-o-fish' and started screaming "Molly-san—TASUKETE!" (Help me out!)

(a day later) After about a week and a half living with the Saitos, things are getting to be really comfortable. We joke around a lot (like at dinner last night), which is fun, and even something as seemingly minor as a gentle touch on the arm has come to generate a feeling of warmth amongst us. I think it's truly amazing how little time it has taken for things here to become so settled . . .

(about 2 weeks later) Okaasan had told me this morning that she would be at the hospital tonight and that Masako would be working, so it would just be me and otoosan. When I got home, I saw that okaasan had left all the food for dinner out on the stove and kitchen counters. So, when otoosan came home and went to his room to change, I started setting the table, cooking, etc. I, in effect, became okaasan. Otoosan grabbed his beer and sake and sat down, while I got everything ready and served him. It felt really weird, though, because it was almost as if I had become Japanese—I was so happy to have the chance to do everything for him that I didn't even mind that I was starving and hadn't eaten yet either.

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