Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Fever, The Wedding, and Hirohito's Revenge Part 2

When we last left our intrepid hero, he had just taken part in a wedding ceremony for his good buddy Rich at Usa Grand Shrine in Oita Prefecture. Battling a digestive system that is betraying him, our hero continues on...

So it's Saturday, around 10 A.M. The Shinto ceremony is over, and I head back to the car with Rich's mom and dad. Apparently, there was a bus available as well, but when I asked them which mode of transport they'd prefer, they chose me. It's good to be liked.

So we get on the road. Rt. 10 down to Beppu. Only about 40 km (25 miles), but the trip, with one pit stop included, takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. Such is the state of driving in Japan.

For some reason, I thought the chapel ceremony was scheduled for 11:30. I'm not sure why I thought that, but there was a lack of information at certain times that day, and somewhere in all of the conversations, I heard "11:30". I found out later that that was when a bus was leaving from...somewhere.

So when the clock came round to 11, and I was just getting in to Beppu, and I still had to make my way up to Kijima Plateau in the hills on the outskirts of town, I started to panic. Can't have a wedding without the groom's parents, especially when they've come all the way from Ellensburg, Washington for the ceremony. So I gave the car a little extra gas on the windy road up to the hotel/chapel/amusement park located at Kijima Plateau, which made the trip almost as exciting as any roller coaster, according to Rich's folks. I apologized, but they said it was the road and not my driving. Whew.

So, we pull in to the parking lot at 11:20, and I see Rob (Rich's friend from Kyoto) chatting with some other people. "Rob, we aren't late, are we?"
"What time's the wedding start?"
"I dunno, but the bride and groom aren't here yet, so I think we're safe."
"Oh. Okay."

The hotel was nice. I got in, checked in to my room, finished up my translation of that letter, and rested up. By this time, I was on my third day of gastrointestinal fun, and I was pretty exhausted.

Then an announcement comes over the speakers.

"Will the Lee-Yoshino wedding party please come out to the garden for a group photo?"

Here we go.

So we get outside, and everybody's there except for the bride and groom. Then they show up.


Rich is in a tux, and Kuniko's in a handmade wedding dress. That she made. And damn, if they don't look amazing. Again, I felt that smile creeping across my face. You've done it, buddy. Way to go.

(Although, I did have to snicker a bit when I saw the white gloves Rich had on. "You planning on driving a taxi, there, eh?" He laughed.)

I'm not sure why, but there were ladybugs all over the place. I don't think I've ever seen that many ladybugs in one place. There were even Bizarro World ladybugs that were black with red spots. Just weird.

So we take a group photo as the chapel is being prepared. Then, Rich drops a bomb on me.

"Dustin, would you pass the rings to us during the ceremony?"

He'd asked me to stand up in front the day before, which was already an honor. But the rings? Wow.

Rich and I have been friends since CWU. I met him through a mutual friend, Rue. We hung out a bit for the two years we were both at CWU, and after I came to Japan, I would try and catch up with him every time I made a trip to Kyushu. We took a cool road trip to Nagasaki one time. And he finally came up to Shimane Prefecture and visited me right before I left for Muroran. Good times all around. I gotta admit, it caught me off guard that he would ask me to hold on to the rings during the ceremony. But it honored me to think that he would ask me to do that.

So there I was, up front during the ceremony, standing next to Rob, with the two rings in my pocket. Great entrance, by the way. We had a flower girl and a ring bearer, which you don't see that often in Japanese chapel ceremonies. So there I am, sweating, freaking out, watching the pastor for the sign to pass the rings and hoping that I'll remember the right ring for the right person. When my moment came to shine, shine I did. Beautiful ceremony all around, and I think it must have been dusty in that chapel, because my eyes watered a bit...

After the wedding, we had a couple of hours before the reception, so I went and hit the baths. Beppu is a nationally famous hot spring resort city, and upset stomach or not, there was no way I was missing out on a free hot spring.

I wash up, clean off, soak, and then head back to my room to change and go to the reception.

Very cool reception. I couldn't eat most of the food, because I just wasn't that hungry, but the atmosphere was great, and Rich had hired some musicians from Fukuoka to perform during the show. The MC kept cutting them off between songs, which sucked, but the music was great. I'm positive that that will be the only time I ever hear Sarah MacLachlan's "Ice Cream" at a wedding reception in Japan. Well played! Pure comedy moment: Rich and Kuni's boss giving the opening speech and having his wife translate it into English. Boss blabs on endlessly about a bunch of stuff, some of which includes Rich and Kuni's contributions to the company and how happy he was for them (which was good, considering that he went on and on and on), and then his wife says, "Rich and Kuni, congratulations. We wish you a lifetime of happiness." Which goes to show that no matter the culture, women are smarter than men.

My other big job that I had to do was to read my translation of the letter Kuni's best friend had written and was going to read at some time during the reception. I'd gotten a bit of help from Tres, Rich's friend who is also a former JET (noticing a pattern here...) on the last bit of the letter. I go up, and Kuni's friend and I switch off reading. The Japanese crowd, as is common at these things, didn't pay attention, but the foreigner crowd, which was very well represented that day, was listening attentively. A comment comparing Rich to Leonardo DiCaprio got a lot of laughs. It's probably best for all parties involved that I don't go into specifics on that one.

Afterward, I got a lot of "Good job!" comments from a lot of people. That always make you feel good. Rich told me that I nailed the translation, and he was glad he'd asked me because he knew I could come through. Coming from Rich, that was one heck of a compliment. He graduated from Central's Japanese program as well, and to get a comment like that from a fellow colleague, well, it makes a guy feel like he's done alright with his life.

A bit of dancing at the end of the reception, and then it was on to the second party. This time it was a bunch of bands playing. Cool stuff, music, dancing, drinking (oolong tea for me)...I wish I could have enjoyed it all a little more. Then up to the honeymoon suite for another party.

This place was huge, and it had a jacuzzi. Tres, Rich, and I smoked celebratory cigars. I soaked my legs in the jacuzzi. Rich, Rob, and I had a good chat. A few of us headed back downstairs and hit the baths again. By then, it was late, and time for bed.

Up the next morning, hit the baths again, ate a bit for breakfast (no desire for food whatsoever), packed, saw Rich and Kuni and Rich's family off, and then I piled in to Rob's van, and he and his family gave me a ride back to Oita Airport. There was some big hubbub in the airport when I got there. I can't say for sure, but considering the media entourage that was there, some members of the royal family flew in to Oita that day. They went through a "special door", and there was much bowing and photos being taken. I stood back, because you never know when you might be mistaken for an assassin.

Hour and a half flight to Tokyo. Hour and a half flight to Chitose. Out of the plane and on to the shuttle bus back to the parking lot where good ol' Wasabi-kun is waiting for me. Cold...so cold...

Then I make the drive home. I make a pit stop at the mall in Tomakomai to buy some gas pills. My stomach had been acting weird all day, and something had to be done. After I took the pill, I felt better, so I grabbed some dinner (Yes! I'm hungry again!). After dinner, I felt so good that I decided to stop in for some SBC, and get an iced raspberry mocha. I felt so good that I even sprung for a brownie.

Then I made the drive home. I got in the door...and then I didn't feel so good anymore. I think it was the brownie that pushed it all over the edge, but ol' Hirohito cam a' knockin' again.

I gotta go get this checked out tomorrow.


Blogger Sizzlean said...


When are we going to see you saddled up with some rings?

That couldn't be as nerve racking as trying to pass the two-match fire test...

I'm filling out your online dating resume as we speak...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 4:45:00 AM  

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