Monday, December 3, 2012
POST 1011; DECEMBER 03, 2012; KOKURA, KYUSHU, JAPAN (SPRING 1953)
...impossible...can anything be so stunning !
Hello, I manage to get out.
In perfect English...will you help me down please...arms extended. I step close, place my hands under her arm pits...she scoots off the tree letting me lower her to the ground. Looking down at her..challanging almond eyes smile back. Keiko does not move away, glances at my hands still under her arms...I drop them to my sides...gazing at unimaginable perfection...as though she just stepped out of a fashion magazine or down off a silvered screen.
Walk with me, please. Taking my hand in hers, she leads me onto the beach...to the waters edge...stops, looking toward the setting Sun reflecting off mirrored water.
...I felt I would meet you here today; I dare not reply...dare not look at her. You are American...a statement; We stand hand in hand on the shores of the Sea Of Japan; strangers; yet, somehow, something more.
Come...I will show you my home.
She leads me, still holding my hand, back the way I had walked. This is our hotel...you will stay here...a question... I don't know. Come...leading across the two lane macadam roadway down a dirt path past small cottages, flower baskets hanging from tiled roofs. This is my home...guiding me onto a neat gravel path, stopping in front of another cottage...door open...we do not enter.
In Japanese, Keiko says something. A small woman in a colorful kimono appears in the doorway. More Japanese...this is my Aunt, my Father's Sister. The woman bows deeply, straightens, looks into my eyes...I nod back. I wish my father's sister to meet you...we will speak with her later. The woman again bows, turns and is gone.
Wordlessly, Keiko drops my hand, turns and walks onto the dirt path, across the roadway... towards the hotel. I follow at her side. I will introduce you to my other family.
We enter a set of high thick wooden doors. Stepping into a huge room, woven mats cover the wood floor. Large wood beams seemingly float overhead outlined in natural light filtering through open windows high up on the wood walls. Small rooms are spaced around the otherwise open room, bamboo curtains hang before each room. Stairs lead to a balcony on one side. More rooms are seen above.
A short man wearing cloth sandals stands before us. More Japanese...you are most welcome here says the man in halting English, bowing deeply. Thank you...I bow slightly back. Keiko speaks more Japanese...the man bows, turns and disappears through a doorway.
Come, please; I follow Keiko to one of the curtained rooms. She holds the curtain ...stands back...this is our room.
Now wait just a minute, my mind is speaking to me...just what is going on here. This girl does not even know my name...I have not asked for a room...I start to speak; She puts her finger on my lips...later, she whispers.
The room is small, mats cover the floor...woven mat forming a ceiling. A bed stands in the center, not 6 inches above the mats. A large duvet blanket and one covered pillow. Beside the bed, a large ceramic vase...heat is rising from the vase. Dark sand half fills the vase...pieces of charcoal glow red and yellow, half buried in the sand.
Two white robes hang from wood pegs inserted into a roughly skinned wood corner post. Wood clogs sit below the robes. Two three legged wood stools stand beside the clogs.
Before we eat, we will enjoy our bath...as she, standing before me, unties the sash holding her white kimono. It falls open...Keiko rotates her shoulders back, catching her falling kimono with hands behind her back...looking deeply into my eyes, she reaches behind me, removes one robe from its peg, replacing it with her kimono. Not taking her eyes off mine, she slips her arms into the robe, wraps it around her and knots the sash in front. Keiko has stood perfectly still as she presented to me the most spectacular fulfillment of my most vivid dreams.
I am speachless.
Without realizing what she is doing, I stand mezmerized as she removes my Class A Uniform, replacing it with the second white robe.
Please remove your shoes...gesturing to the stool. I sit...remove my shoes and socks...slip on the clogs.
Come with me, please.
I follow her out of the room, across the floor mats, through the small doorway the man disappeared...finding us standing outside on a cinder path leading to a small wood building. A stream bubbles under the building, a water wheel lifting water into a funnel leading through the wall. Keiko holds a door open, gestering that I should enter. I step in. Two large cedar tubs stand side by side. On one side is a furnace of some sort, charcoal in a sand filled basin, a large kettle above, steaming water flowing down a bamboo half-pipe into one of the tubs...large enough to seat at least four..
In front of the tubs is a wood trough, reminding me very much of the gutter behind the tail of our milk cow in the barn of our stump ranch. A long cedar bench stands close to the trough.
Keiko turns her back to me, slowly slides her robe from her shoulders, reaching for the wooden peg..........
* * * * * * * *
In 1952 Japan, Community baths are the norm. Women at one end; men at the other end; families in the center. Community toilets even more common...the probability of a beautiful woman sitting down at the commode next to you is assured.
Nudity is accepted without thought.
For a 17 year old American having recently experienced severe punishment for attempting a peek at Nancy's showering Mom...surely like dying and going to Heaven !