Matsushima, Ah, Matsushima, Matsushima!
This is a haiku by Basho, one of my favorite poets. He was right. The place is oodling with holiness. It is a set of small islands with those bloopy looking pine trees on them. Caves have been pickaxed out of the granite so that people can sit in their shelter and meditate. Stones with kanji and statues of Buddhas filled the caves. We wandered around, singing rounds in a tunnel and testing the meditation qualities of various caves. Yayoi and I sketched a portly stone Buddha whose lower body looked like a boulder, while Camilla climbed trees and had old ladies worry volubly at her.
We returned to the hotel to pick up Susan and meet her son, who's paid our hotel bill and said all kinds of kindly things to us. Then Tokiko appeared. She had brought just a few more things we needed to have. A Marimekko gown for Camilla, two kimono for Susan, an obi and jacket for Yayoi. We gasped and ahhed, and then she took us out for sushi.
The sushi restaurant was a brightly lit place with seats in a semicircle around the kitchen. You could order from a menu or, if you were Tokiko, you could just tell the chef what you wanted and he would try to find that thing, menu or no. She decided we should start with something blue or something shiny, preferably both. Mackerel or sardines, for example. We did, how could we not. Then there was a relentless river of items, all with descriptive words for their texture; something smooth on the tongue but a little tough, something creamy, something grainy with a bite. Tokiko's husband's cousin came in the door, an elderly doctor who decided that Tokiko was not making us eat enough food. He took over and ordered us shellfish sushi, nori soup, pickled daikon, fish eggs, and sea urchin eggs. Eventually he tottered out and Tokoki took up the gauntlet. We ate other things, which blur in the mind. The chef came out with three wooden tablets and had Susan, the famous singer, and Camilla, the model, and me, the artist, sign and date them. He carefully sounded out our names and wrote them on the backs of the tablets in case he wanted to revisit the experience. We finished up with ice cream and bows all around.
Susan and Camilla sat under a tree in the brightly lit promenade, while Yayoi, Tokiko, and I went off in search of a pharmacy. Found it, but the word benadryl had been misspelled to benedryl, and we had a long involved conversation about what it could be until I spotted the mistake. Then a substitute was found, and suddenly Tokiko realized that she had not bought me a present. No problem. I should use face moisturizer twice a day, because the water in Sendai is different than that in America, and my face should become beautiful, not dry like it is now. So she got me some moisturizer and mimed what I should do with it. Problem solved.
When we got back to the others, they were giggling. They'd been accosted by a group of girls who couldn't get over how cute they were. Susan had to sing a bit, but refused to kiss everyone. A drunken man circled them, and another one passed out nearby. This was beginning to get weird, but our arrival stopped the parade of curious people and we all went home.