19 Mar My 80th Birthday
We were having dinner in a small izakaya (pub). We’d struggled a bit to find a good restaurant for dinner. The first place we tried was full, but they recommended another restaurant that we eventually found. When we arrived it was empty but the proprietor turned us away. As we left, they waved us back in and offered us a table. We were early and I think they hoped we’d be gone by the time their reservations showed up. It almost worked!
Near the end of our meal a large group of young people arrived. Several spoke some English and were eager to practice with us. We learned they were a group of students, professors, and marketing professionals working on a project to promote a local brand of shochu. They appeared to be having a very good time and were so welcoming that we stayed for another round of drinks.
Celeste let it slip that it was my 80th birthday. A local musician was performing with traditional taiko drums and a shamisen (a three-stringed guitar-like instrument that is plucked with a stick). The other patrons were eager to celebrate with us. They serenaded me with Happy Birthday and before long the entire izakaya was singing, dancing, and helping play the taiko drums. Pure joy!
Words don’t do justice to the experience. We took some short videos that do a slightly better job, but nothing like being there in person. It was a marvelous way to celebrate a birthday!