The driver took their small carryon bags and they followed him through the door. When he left he gave Kumiko his card and asked her to call his cell phone when they were ready no mater what time in was, he would drive them back to Hiroshima.

The entry way was wet as though it had just been hosed and spaced wooden planking covered the walk so that the water would run off.

A pleasant woman in a green kimono met them immediately and said,

“Welcome to Hiiragi-ya, you must be Gianni Grosso san and Kumiko san, we have been expecting you.”

“Please put your shoes here and take a pair of these slippers”

Inside the temperature suddenly dropped to a very comfortable coolness and they could smell the same cedar aroma that Gianni noticed in The Designer Club. The lady in the kimono asked them to sit at a table in the lobby for a moment and have a cup of green tea while they made some last preparations in their room.

The tea was served in a wide rimed cup and was both cloudy and a little bitter. Kumiko showed Gianni how to hold the cup, how to turn it three times to be sure it was well blended and how to take one of the sweet cookies just after the tea to balance the bitterness. They sat for a few minutes and another woman in a brown kimono came and invited them to follow her to their room. She told them she would be their room servant for their stay.

When they entered their room Gianni was speechless; it was the most beautiful room he had ever seen. It was about 6x6 meters. In one corner of the room was low elegant table with cushions surrounding it, in another corner there was a traditional dressing area where a woman could kneel on a cushion and see her reflection in a beautiful oval shaped mirror framed in carved dark wood. The floor was covered in thick perfect tatami mats, at the side of the room behind a screen were two mattresses and on the wall facing the entrance was a sliding glass door opening into a beautiful private garden with a pond with many-colored koi and a small bridge crossing a narrow stream. Above the sliding glass window was a stained glass window more beautiful than Gianni had ever seen and once inside the room he could see another stained glass window above the entrance. There was another adjacent small room, which was the traditional Japanese bath, all made from cedar and the large circular tub about a meter and a half in diameter and about a meter deep and full of very hot water. The smell of the steam with the cedar was intoxicating.

As Gianni and Kumiko were admiring their room the servant came in and asked if they would like their sushi now and that their kaiseki dinner would be served at 19:00 if that were convenient. Kumiko told her they would like some sushi now and 19:00 would be perfect for dinner.

Kumiko stepped behind the screen by the dressing area and shortly came out wearing a yekata, the traditional Japanese robe worn in the home; all Gianni could do was think how beautiful she was. When the room servant came into the room with the first tray of sushi and saw that Gianni was about to step behind the same screen to put on his yekata, she became agitated and said,

“Please wait Grosso san.”

And she quickly left the room and ran back with another yekata.

“Extra big for Grosso san!”

They all laughed.

The room servant asked is there was any special kind if sushi they would like to have. Kumiko looked at Gianni in a way that told him to go ahead and ask for whatever he wanted, Gianni asked for some toro, ikura, uni and Natto.

Kumiko was laughing,

“Are you sure you’re not Japanese?”

The rest of the sushi came, Gianni asked for a beer and Kumiko asked for tea.

They sat across the table from each other, Kumiko kneeling and sitting very straight and Gianni on his side, his back resting against the wall. He already knew one had to grow up with these kinds of tables to sit correctly like Kumiko.

Now they were finally alone and settled. Gianni couldn’t have been happier; the situation was beyond belief. They held their glasses and said Kampai and just looked at each other for a moment. Finally Gianni said,

“Does Kamei san create situations like this frequently?”

“No one’s ever been able to figure out how Kamei san thinks or how to predict what he might do but this is certainly something new and different. I think we should just relax, enjoy the sushi and maybe have a bath when we’re finished. I’ll prepare the water.”

Kumiko got up and turned on the cold water to just a trickle so that the scalding hot water in the tub would be just the right temperature when they finished eating.

“It will be perfect in a few minutes. Would you like another beer?”

As well as being extremely happy Gianni was aware of a slightly uncomfortable feeling. He was asking himself how and why this incredible situation was happening and at the same time avoiding an answer. He was about to slip into a hot bath with the beautiful wonderful young woman he adored, what was the problem? Was he concerned that this twenty eight year old Goddess may not be attracted to a rotund sixty-six year old Italian Maestro? He wanted that thought to go away but it wouldn’t.

Just then Kumiko jumped up, took the fresh bottle of beer to the bath and put on a shelf next to the tub. She came back to the table, took both Gianni’s hands, pulled him to his feet and led him into the bath. She took off her robe, hung it up and slipped into the tub and held out her hands for Gianni to follow. He took off the robe, hung it next to Kumiko’s and stepped into the water. Kumiko splashed him in the face when his feet hit the bottom.

“Is this your first time in a Japanese bath?”

“No, I’ve done it many times but this is the first time with a woman, not to mention the most beautiful woman in the world.”

She smiled, then took the small wooden bucket that was on the cedar decking next to the tub, full of ice-cold water and pored the whole thing over Gianni’s head.

“Whoa, That’s really cold!”

And he filled the bucket and threw it in Kumiko’s face.

They were both laughing and water fighting.

Gianni was starting to relax,

“This is wonderful, when my back gets so sore from conducting a bath like this is about the only thing that makes it feel better.

“Turn around, let me give you a back massage”

Gianni took a deep anticipatory breath and turned. He could feel her fingers going deep into his muscles. She worked up and down his back and to get better leverage she moved much closer and Gianni could feel her breasts rubbing on his back; he quickly forgot about his back. Kumiko moved closer and soon the side of her head was pressed hard against the side of his head and he could feel and hear her breath passing over his ear; without thinking Gianni turned and they kissed. After a few minutes and without a word they stepped out of the tub, helped each other dry, went into the main room and disappeared behind the screen on the other side.

In what seemed a very short time, there was a knock on the door and the room servant came in and started setting the table for the dinner. It was 19:00; the kaiseki dinner was being served.

Continue to Section 10: Kaiseki

Copyright 2005. Design by Rose Schweikhart