The weekend, and the time to move house had finally arrived.
I think even Kentaro was sad to see me go (I did rather prefer Daijiro, what with him liking play fighting and generally being more easy-going), especially as I let him play with my hair on the way to Tsukishima. I should say at this point that when it comes to his passions, Kentaro is a bit of a girl. OK, a lot of a girl. He likes dolls. Specifically dressing them up and brushing their hair. Kousei frequently dispairs of this fact but I don’t think Yukiko is bothered.
Anyhow, the move was fine, apart from the packing which was a pain as I have acquired quite a bit more stuff since arriving, especially with the extra dogi for Shorinji and the three boxes of cereal that Yukiko gave me as I left. The Suzuki’s kindly drove me to the meeting point as I had a suitcase, two backpacks and a plastic bag of stuff! The new family are also called Suzuki, and henceforth they will be known as the No 2’s. There was a slightly odd meeting at Tsukishima station of the No 1’s and No 2’s, but I quickly said my goodbyes and headed off with my new family.
Things got off to a slightly weird start when Hiroko went shopping for an hour and a half soon after I’d arrived, leaving me to babysit Misaki. This wasn’t fun as first she insisted on skipping; specifically on make me skip, then she just wanted to wander around outside, where it was cold. (Yes, it’s finaly getting cold here). We finally went back in to find Hiroko leaving to go to Tokyo Station to pick up her parents. Luckily I haven’t had to babysit since as I was pondering what to do if it became an on-going thing!
Obviously there is quite a big difference in the family set-up, what with this one being a single-parent household. Misaki seems pretty independant, which I suppose you’d expect with a mother who works a lot. There is also less money and the booze flow less freely, which is both a good and bad thing! Whilst the house is very chilled out, and Hiroko seems pretty happy for me to come and go as I please, it lacks the big family feel that the No 1’s had, and also I will miss going out drinking after Shorinji – Izikaya’s are one of the finer things in Japanese life (think small pubs without the stale beer smell and serving very good food) and there’s nothing better than sitting around drinking beer and smoking fags! The only other downside I have encountered is that whilst Kentaro and Daijiro had eachother to play with, Misaki has no-one. Consequently she bugs me quite a lot, which is really rather annoying. Like yesterday I was wrapping gifts for my family and she spent about half an hour watching me, chatting to herself, singing the reeeallly annoying “ponya ponya” song (you will only know this if you’re in Japan!) and trying to stick sellotape in the wrong places.
On my second night here, we went out for suki-yaki with the parents, which was cool. Suki yaki involves boiling meat and veg in a stove thing at the table, and dipping them into a soya and dashi based sauce. Yum.
Afterwards the grandmother, Misaki and I went to the local sento. A sento is a local bathing house which every neighbourhood has, although they are declining in popularity since most houses now have their own baths. They have a number of pools of differing temperatures, in this case one very hot, one a bit cooler but outside, and one absobloodylutelyfreezing. You wash first (by sitting on a small stool and using a shower) and then get in for a long soak. Good fun and although I was slightly nervous about getting naked in front of my new family on only the second day there, it turns out I wasn’t stared at as much as I thought I would be. Woo!
I forgot to take some photos when we went out for dinner, but I will get some soon and post them here when I have done so.