morning ritual

Morning is a time of ceremony, mostly because the brain isn't quite working yet. I get up at 7:30 and Hiroko's already been up for an hour. She's usually in the shower by the time I stumble into the kitchen to cherish the last few drops of coffee. We battle at the sink, her hair dryer versus my toothbrush. I usually lose, and brush my teeth in the kitchen. By the time I start getting dressed the old man in the apartment across the street has his apartment door propped open. All the better for us to hear his throat-hacking, moaing/screaming: "ggghhhahhhhrrrrrrhhhh!" First time it happened I thought we should call an ambulance. Now it reminds me it's time to take out the garbage. As I step outside, Puchi (the dog of the Takazaki house) begins ferocious growling and barking. I hurl a bit of dog beef-jerky in Puchi's general direction and drop the trash at the designated location, bowing my way through the throngs of old women congregating on the corner. Back in the house I finish dressing and get my iaido gear together (quick oil and sword check, fold up the uniform, grab a towel and bottle of water) and then get my shoes on just as Hiroko is realized she has exactly 48 seconds to get to the bus stop or else she'll have to wait 12 minutes for the next bus and be late for work. So out the door we go in a haze of anti-bug spray.
Weekend mornings are less hurrried, but more ceremonial in that the temple behind our apartment is usually engaged in some funeral type activity. Streams of black-clad men, women, and children swarm up and down the street as the priest pounds drums, rings bells, and chants. At 7 in the morning.

weekend o' fun

Saturday hiroko and I went to ginza for some shopping. Her favourite shoe store Camui re-opened after months of remodeling, but she didn't find anything she liked. I, however, got a lovely pair of black sandals that I use instead of slippers at work. Camui shoes are great because they have that squishy water-filled insole that is so comfy to walk around on.
After Ginza we checked out the new Maru-Biru (Maru-no-uchi Building) right in front of Tokyo station. It just opened that weekend, so we and everyone else in Tokyo with nothing better to do crammed in there. Fairly typical: nice office building with 5 floors of retail on the bottom. Nice Conran Shop, so if we need to buy fashionably overpriced candles we know where to go.
Then we headed over to Ichikawa and hooked up with folks at Master's to get some yakitori. Lisa was in town (for a month) for a wedding so the old gang did the traditional gather-at-Masters-and-eat-and-drink thing. I helped Hugh keep little (well actually quite big) Toshiki from getting run over and grabbed bites of chicken-on-a-stick, and then we headed home in the rain.
Tried to wake up early on Sunday but failed. Ended up going to iai in the afternoon and everyone was wondering why I didn't go to the morning session. The place was full of mosquitoes so Gosoke had us close the windows and light a bunch of anti-bug incense. In a matter of minutes the room was full of smoke, but the mosquitoes had left (probably because there wasn't much oxygen left!)
Came home and Hiroko and I had a lovely home-cooked meal of rice, fried fish, and tofu -- sometimes ya just gotta eat traditional.