Nagoya Writes

February 14, 2008

A Trip to Mie by Reed Gage

Filed under: Gage,Issue: 2004,Prose — usbengoshi @ 4:29 pm

Wife has promised a trip to Mie with her mother. Mie is a two-hour train ride from Nagoya. No biggie. But it is a biggie. I have to go as well. This means two days in the company of two females without the possibility of having sex. See? ‘C’ is for compromise. ‘C’ is for a capital letter compromise.

In two years, three times we have journeyed to Mie for a relaxing time by the Sea. And it has rained. Every time. Rain is forecast for tomorrow’s trip as well. If so, this will be the fourth time the journey should have been rained out. But we have hotel reservations! And in Japanese this translates as ‘No hurricane is going to stop Me from My trip to the overpriced indoor hot spring’ which includes elaborate sign-in procedures Japanese style, mandatory wake-up calls for an 8 am breakfast consisting of small fried fish and bean soup.

Being the fourth time in a row for me to experience rain on a trip to Mie qualifies me as the ‘Ame no Otoko’, the rain man, the guy responsible for the shitty weather. I fight this trip every year by offering suggestions like ‘How about going to Nagano’ or ‘Takayama’ or someplace where a cold storm might result in some snow.

But Mie ken is special. It has a very convoluted coastline, with innumerable tiny ocean inlets like small fingers running everywhere throughout the land. The result is a greatly modifying temperature effect. It almost never snows. Instead in winter you get bone-chilling rains.

Never mind. It is eight a.m. and the alarm goes off. This should allow us just enough time for a virtual breakfast of tea and toast. No dice. Today we are interrupted by an early arriving Mother-in-Law eager to catch the bus. Fine, I am OK. And stuffing a tangerine in each pocket and throwing my backpack over a shoulder I queue for the line out the metal door of our aging apartment, down the cement steps, across a busy street to the bus stop for the trip to Meieki.

We shiver in the wind for about 10 minutes. The bus seems to be running late as buses often do all around the world (even in Japan) on rainy days. Finally, it comes. I board last and motion for Wife and Mother-in-Law to please sit where they like. I will sit behind them and relax a bit. There is a great deal of fiddling and Wife sign language to get me to sit across from them. I do. But there is little chance of me entering the conversation at this early point of the Mother and Daughter ‘sharing’.

In fact, Mother-in-Law doesn’t understand my Japanese at all. Wife translates my Japanese to another Japanese with a higher pitched voice and a more rapid rhythm. And Mother-in-Law nods her head understandingly.

Off the bus and we board the train to Mie. As the seats face in one direction with room for two side by side there is again a chance I will be able to sit alone and perhaps read my Paint Shop Pro users’ manual without appearing rude. But somehow my wife has managed to grab four seats from the eager seat-searching masses that boarded the train. Mother-in-Law and I look on with some awe as Wife yanks repeatedly at the curved metal handles topping the felt covered seats while stomping on a protruding steel lever bar near the floor of the train then managing to swing four seats around so they are facing each other. This will secure our verbal and visual communication for the next 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I have a sore developing on the right side of my throat and I feel cold, almost shivery. I wonder if I have a fever — though it is too late to abort this trip. But maybe I can be excused from some activities. The rainwater is streaming off the windows within 5 minutes of pulling out of Nagoya JR Station. ‘Like tears’ I think to myself. Visibility is less than 2 meters. I shut my eyes as I mention that I am sleepy, and Wife and Mother-in-Law both nod in compliance. Yes, go ahead and sleep. And a nirvana-like sensation comes over me and I am out.

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