Reflecting on the day and this evening’s festivities before going to sleep, I realize that the urgency has left the group to a degree. Although I don’t think anyone believes everything the news is reporting about the borders being opened and people are to start getting back to work, the general feeling is that it’s getting closer. It’s not completely safe yet, but we’re out of the worst of it and Japan is on the mend now. I mean, we just bumped into two of the infected before coming in here, so I don’t think anyone can say it’s time to go back to the office or whatever. Still, things seem to be picking up.

That news, plus finally getting some food and a chance to relax has been really nice. There’s definitely a part of me that feels strange though. It’s like a tiredness that I can’t get rid of, no matter how much I sleep. It’s hard to describe, but maybe it’s a kind of weariness. All things considered, it’s probably a normal reaction to everything we’ve been through.

This evening, we spent time drinking with the group and eating individually wrapped cheese. Like a lot of cheese here, I would say that each little circle tasted like an eraser that has been kept in a dirty sock for a while. Not in a bad way, but just as a general impression. We haven’t really eaten much for a long time, so I am definitely not complaining.

As predicted, Tonbo pulled out the classic Japanese joke of speaking English, much to everyone’s delight. Usually it would annoy me, but I was able to laugh along with them.

“Charlie Chaplin! Where from?”

“New Zealand”

“REALLY? Unbelievable!” (big laughs) “You know Haka?”

Then he jumped up and started slapping his arms shouting “Ganbatte, ganbatte,” which got another round of laughs (and the comment “wow, you know a lot about other countries”). As a finale to his comedy routine, he shook my hand and said “Thank you. This is a pen. Nice to meet you. Don’t stop believing.” A few more cheers and comments, such as “He’s actually pretty good at English,” but he’d run out of foreigner comedy material, so the conversation went back to the modifications on his bike.

Ayako and I took that opportunity to slip away from the group. I carried Risa, who was asleep on the floor to a quieter area upstairs in the actual chapel area. Some of the pews were still there, so I made a bed for her by turning one around so it faced another, and pushing them together. I added a few pillows and then helped Risa into it. I thought it was actually quite a good idea, so I made another and got in with Ayako. She’s asleep now, but she’s lying here with her back against my chest, as I type this with one hand. I can hear the SDF and the biker couple laughing downstairs, but I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be right now. I guess we’ll start making tracks to Tomogashima again tomorrow.

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