May 20: How Do You Clean a Tatami Mat?


Kari wasn’t able to get the whole of the time that I was with her away from work, so this day I have no pictures for you, and I have only a few stories.

This was a day of rest for me, but when I’m home, days off tend also to mean days to do chores. I decided to surprise Kari by doing as many of her chores as I could do. Except for the dishes, this was an exercise in ingenuity and improvisation and guesswork. I used a mop to sweep floors and damp paper towels in place of dustpans. I realized that no one had ever thought to teach me how to clean a tatami mat, so I used my hands to brush the dust to the wood molding that separated rooms and held the runners for the sliding walls. Wood I did know how to clean.


When Kari did get home, we decided to walk across the railway overpass in search of a ramen restaurant. It was a breezy but not bitterly cold evening and from the top of the overpass the view was pretty stellar, but I foolishly used my mental camera again instead of my physical one. (One day perhaps we will have Pensieves and then I can show you.)

As it got dark and we were walking past farms and roadside brush, I was greatly startled by a large, scuttling spider, but the tension was broken when from behind us we heard the young, innocent, excited call of “Kari Sensei!” One of Kari’s students was driving past. The car met us at the intersection and we talked a moment, with the kids leaning out the open car windows. I don’t remember being so excited to see my teachers outside of school. I mostly remember being disconcerted because I and my teachers were out of context when we met at the supermarket. It was one of the sweeter interactions to which I was privy in Japan. Though, to be fair, the age of the participants does help to sweeten it. Kids are always often adorable.

The ramen restaurant was closed, and the options for dining in Koma are scarce, so we adopted Plan B and went into a nearby convenience store and picked up several packages of instant rice and Japanese curry, which we cooked in the microwave before settling down for a movie on the laptop.

Photograph is mine.  Click to see it larger.


About Kathryn

My love of books has been carefully cultivated by the adults who raised me and also by the friends who love to share. My life has led me down long library shelves, to online forums, fanfiction sites, the front of a lecture hall, and into the desks of college classrooms. With an English degree and a couple master’s classes in Children’s Literature, I am now a bookseller for Barnes & Noble. I have been an editor for Wizarding Life Networks (the people who brought you Wizarding Life, Panem October, and MyHogwarts now HogwartsIsHere).

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