After finishing the job for the day, we went to an onsen (hot spring) place in Fukui prefecture. If you are "vetted" by the Japanese culture, you know what to expect in an onsen ryokan. If you are not, well, you don't.
The meal was superb. We had fun chatting and laughing, and the idea naturally sprung up to go to a Karaoke place.
Matsuoka went around and reserved a table at a Karaoke bar. When we arrived, several senior gentlemen were already having a good time. The bar ladies sang along with them, and danced with them when the tunes came along. One girl, who was rather stoutly build, attracted my attention. I wondered how she would have been at the age of five. The bar ladies danced and flirted with the senior customers with the beauty and mastery of people who knew how to handle drunken men.
Somehow Matsuoka got the idea of dancing all by himself. He held his own shoulders tightly, as if to simulate two people in a passionate embrace, and slowly ventured onto the floor. His mimicry with perhaps a bit of mockery did not attract the attention of the old men, as they were in the blissful amnesia of intoxication.
A job description of singing along and dancing with customers at random every night might not have been a part of the girl's dream at the age of five. However, in a very strange way, the sight of Matsuoka trying to mimic and light-heartedly ridicule the whole situation might have been a transformation of a little girl's idea of a prince on a white horse in the pipedream.
On the morning after, I was in the great onsen bath. In Japan, the idea is always to share a single gigantic bath with miscellaneous people (it is usually NOT co-ed. Don't start getting ideas!). While enjoying the comfort of the volcanic water, I noticed that some gentlemen from the Karaoke bar last night was there.
I noticed also that their hairs were very gray. Their flesh fragile, their movements slow. Once in the bath, they apparently went into an meditative mode. Maybe they are reflecting on the past days. Maybe they are thinking how many more dances they would be getting.
This is the autumn of their lives.
Dance, dance, dance, every living creature.
How would you feel in the autumn of life?
As I start to reflect on what happened the night before in a more mellow and favorite light, the rich enigma of life would slowly unfold in my mind. Everybody has his or her time, and there is after all beauty in miscommunication.