This morning I am grateful for friends. We are on a terrific adventure in Japan, a significant language barrier, but a smile gets you anywhere. We got up this morning feeling good, no jet lag yet. Our plan is to go to the Tsuda Racing shop, we have a rental car with GPS, we have Wi-Fi so we are able to communicate, now if we can just get the two working together, that will be great.
Rich is on Messenger communicating with Naozumi while I get ready, it turns out that GPS will only take us part of the way to their home. As we prepare to leave, Naozumi messages and says, stay there, we will meet for lunch. When we look outside, he is in the parking lot next door and inviting us to lunch.
We ask him to order for us and the lunch that comes to the table is beautiful. Soup with udon noodles, the kind you slurp; beef with rice; some sort of pickled vegetable and this neon yellow fruit like substance. I tried it all, ate most of it, couldn’t get the hang of slurping my noodles though, and neon fruit – only ate one.
Everyone from the shop has joined us, there are eight of us, including Naozumi’s wife and brother. Everyone pretends they don’t speak English, but small bits come out that sound college educated to me, no hesitation at all.
After lunch, we drive up the mountain to their home. The family home is there, as is Naozumi’s home and the shop. We are surrounded by trees and some water, not far from the shop is the competition area where WE Rock Japan takes place, it has a concrete bowl, a large boulder field and many other potential competition areas. Today is concrete day, the large boulder field is being concreted to secure the rocks in place. Three loads of concrete are coming in and being sprayed in a watery slurry.
Five young men are armed with hand trowels and a small hoe to shovel the slurry around. They work tirelessly for the afternoon. The pump truck operator isn’t as big as his concrete hose, Josh jumps in to help move the hose around amid comments and laughter, all we understand is “sumo.”
We take a trail ride around the property and learn more about the family. As afternoon slides in to evening, we go back to the shop to prepare tepanyaki style barbeque. There is beef, mushrooms, and peppers on the grill. Rice in the cooker, and an interesting combination in the pot. I jump in for all of it. From the pot, I have selected a sliced potato (or so I thought, it may have been taro), a square something – turns out to be tofu, and a boiled egg. The men in the room approve, I have shown I am not afraid. They pass down the Japanese mustard for the pot concoction. It’s a little strong. I wrinkle my nose and they laugh.
The lunar eclipse is happening in American at 4:20 a.m.; because we are in Japan, we are seeing it in primetime, a beautiful site over the treetops.