familiar: a chignon in the middle of the top of his head, and those small curls that resemble waves of the ocean, spirals, bird’s nests. His plump eyelids were a little ajar: maybe he was observing events around him, maybe he saw and heard things in his sleep. All of his toes peeked out from under the hem of of his robe.
    I wanted to buy the reclining buddha as a present for Mikael whose birthday was coming up in two days, or for my sister who collects buddha sculptures.
    “Ask how much it is,” I told Hiroko.
    The price was twenty thousand yen.
    “That’s very reasonable,” Hiroko said.
    The shopkeeper wrapped the small but weighty buddha in tissue paper and I stuffed him into my bag. I was tired from the temple visits, tired from the delight and overabundance of things to see that Hiroko had predicted, when we returned to meet Mikael who had given his lecture on the taxation of currency transactions at the university.
    We dined at a restaurant that served only buckwheat noodles
-- Hiroko’s recommendation. The air in the place was quite stuffy, but a rosemary bush grew in the back yard, and every time someone opened the door to the yard, its scent wafted in to join the hot odor of the buckwheat.
    We spent our two nights in Kyoto in a painter’s studio. We walked there on Philosopher’s Lane, alongside a canal, in the deep shade of great big trees. I don’t remember what kind they were, but they still had leaves on them even that late in the fall.
    When I showed the buddha to our hostess, her face lit up. She turned the sculpture this way and that and stroked the folds of its bronze robe. “In Japan, buddhas either sit or stand, they never lie down,” she said. “This must come from Thailand.”
    “How old do you think it is?”

Created with Stone Design's Create® at 2005-08-01 21:57:19 +0300