|Curse you colour-coded forms of communication!|
|Join the army, get a tree.|
We visited a nearby shrine, and it had a small pond, with tiny fish fry and a couple of pond skaters. I bought a fortune there for just 20 yen. I don't understand this form of fortune-telling; the fortunes are all in a plate or box next to the sign for donations (or prices), and sometimes they're even numbered, so if you know #42 was the one with excellent luck all year you'd pick that one, right? Even if they weren't numbered, it's not very mysterious to just pick a lottery of fortunes - and it's a bit ironic too.
|There's a story behind the lantern but I can't remember what it is.|
|There's no al fresco dining though.|
|There's a minotaur down the right-hand path.|
|You too can make your own gold leaf, for only 24 easy payments of $49.95!|
|It's actually a pretty accurate logarithmic scale in descending order.|
|It takes two hundred thousand dollars to live in this room... for twelve seconds.|
|Would you buy a gold facial mask?|
|Or gold-plated golf balls?|
When I got back at around 6 pm XM told me that the stuffing was still being prepared, so we hung around outside the guest house, chatting and watching the flowing water and finding out that the barrier gate is not locked.
Inside the small cramped living/dining room, waiting for us, was a large bowl of strong-smelling raw meat and vegetable mix, the stuffing of the gyoza which would inevitably be stuffing our stomachs. Yuu-san taught us how to fold a small lump of raw stuffing into the small circle of dough, and it was obvious from the beginning that I had no natural talent whatsoever. It was fun, though, chatting as the repetive task become third nature, like second nature except not so. Midway through this extravaganza, we were introduced to the guest who would be sleeping in that room that night, because of space issues. His name was Vinh, he said he was Cantonese but from Canada, and he was studying in Japan for a while before returning to Canada. I had a feeling he had Vietnamese blood though, because his name didn't sound very ethnic Chinese.
|I made that plate!|
Soon all the hundreds of gyoza were wrapped up in their individual packages, and sent to the kitchen for Yuu-san to fry. The sizzling smell of adequately-burnt dumpings was intoxicating. The dining tables were set up, and soon we were sitting down to dinner with Vinh, a Japanese man called Sou-san, a lady from Thailand on a short holiday before her conference called Patti, and the two staff, with promise of Masaki-owner-san joining us later.
It was mostly talking about our countries again, how everyone is amazed by Xi Min's level of Japanese, and Sou-san gave us an introduction to the intricacies of the Japanese language, about how there are four variations for "cool down" and a different phrase if the door was opened by a person or by itself. We pointed out how most kanji was similar to Chinese characters, and there was mention of JX's Japanese name as well. Vinh said he had long ago compiled a catalogue of the different meanings of kanji in both Chinese and Japanese. Eventually Yuu-san, who I was sitting next to, was asking me to translate stuff for her, or at least correct her broken English, for phrases that she would need to use around work.
|From left: Yuu-san, Sou-san, Vinh, and Patti. Picture courtesy of Vinh.|
I don't normally like gyoza, but these ones were delicious, and with the saucy mix of vinegar and soy sauce made it excellent. I think the talk seasoned it as well.
|Our room, complete with futons and strewn baggage.|