Mr. and Mrs. Sasaki are allegedly retired, but that doesn’t stop them working full days on the farm, as well as doing lots of volunteering work; Mrs. Sasaki is also an expert in many aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and this afternoon she invited me along to a session teaching the Japanese tea ceremony to some local school children. I pitched in with the preparation work, and apart from very nearly spilling boiling hot water all over (thereby permanently ruining) the tatami mats, I did a reasonable job. When it came to sitting seiza however I managed about 10 minutes before I skulked off to the back of the classroom, leaving the children to endure just over an hour of not feeling their legs. However it could have been worse, as Mrs. Sasaki was telling me that in the actual tea ceremony the hostess will have to sit for maybe 4 to 5 hours in the position, behavior which to me seems the very definition of masochism.
This evening I was invited to what I understood to be a town meeting concerning an emergency earthquake procedure. In actual fact it was a scientific forum regarding the local Geo Park, and the fragile relationship between man and the Earth. I amazed myself by understanding a good 10% of what was going on and even managed to laugh on queue at a joke that I actually understood. Given, the remaining 90% didn’t so much go over my head as into the stratosphere, but dammit I sense progress.