November 14, 2006
I’ve been here almost two months, and this Saturday I had my first experience of truly going out into the community on my own. I didn’t think much of it when I signed up for a local hagi-yaki pottery class a month ago, but now that it’s over I realize that this is the first time I’ve done anything significant without the aide of my friends, family, or at least an interpreter. It was, in a word, awkward.
First of all, my whole family came in to drop me off: Kiyoshi, Tomoko, and even their visiting daughter Yuko. It was oddly reminiscent of my first day of elementary school as they all lingered in the doorway watching me make my way into the room. As they left me with the sensei (whose name I never caught) all I could do was stand there and try to make small talk. I decided the weather was probably a safe topic, and mentioned that it was a little cold today, expecting light disinterested banter in return. One would think I had said something catastrophic. Immediately the woman started looking at the windows with concern, pacing the room anxiously (“Should I close the windows? You’re too cold?”). Comically, Kiyoshi suddenly appeared out of nowhere (I thought they’d left!), anxiously asking me if I was wearing heavy enough clothes, etc. I backpedaled furiously, explainingthat it’s cold outside, but fine indoors. The woman
just stared at me with furrowed brows, as if she couldn’t imagine what would possess me to bring it up in the first place. Crawling under the table seemed like an awfully attractive option at that point, but I had the feeling somebody might notice.
Potting itself was enjoyable. I like making things with my hands, and I could figure out what I was doing, even if I didn’t