If you are just joining us

Foot without needles/poised like slug in restful state/still hurts like mo' fo'.

For the already initiated: when last we left our heroine, she was primed to submit her hurt foot to blind harpooning. Will the “hari” prove  too hairy? Read on …

In Japan, the blind are often trained in the healing arts because, it is thought, the loss of one sense leads to greater ability with the remaining senses. Half an hour later, I was pain-free. Until I stood.

I sat back down.

The acupuncturist suggested I come for another treatment in two days. In precisely two days, Cliff and I had a date with a friend we had not seen since she returned to Japan from Seattle three years prior. She lived two train rides, four hundred miles, and approximately five hours away from Kyoto.

“Ah,” she replied when I explained. “Your Japanese is very good.”

When a Japanese person says your Japanese is very good, generally, that is Japanese politeness in action. You’ll know your Japanese is very good when you find yourself in conversations and no one mentions you are speaking Japanese.

Back at Matsubaya-san’s, I pounded the ibuprofen until Cliff appeared. The volunteer in Nara turned out to be the president of the local guide association, and had come equipped with perfect English, a thorough knowledge of history and architecture, and—Cliff sighed—a car. She drove him all over Nara.

Cliff tugged on his beard, his habit when perturbed. “Why don’t we rent a car, at least until you can walk without pain.”

I forbade it. Our rail passes, over four hundred dollars each, allowed us two weeks of unlimited access to virtually every train in Japan. This was one of the few good deals in a country where a grapefruit costs six bucks and bargaining is not part of the culture.

Rather than rent a car, we decided that Cliff would carry everything.

Gasp and drama, two backpacks? Mensch, nothing; how strong is this Cliff guy? Will he survive this trip? Will this relationship? Will Japan?  See you tomorrow.