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Thank You and OK!: an American Zen Failure in Japan
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[DC notes to self and others in brackets]

Chapter 73


June 16, 1988   -   A CHAT WITH KOJI


As the day for me to leave approached, Koji and I spent more and more time together.  We stayed up late the last couple of nights talking.  He helped me mark a map of Japan with all the places I wanted to go.  We were serious at times and silly at others but I couldn't make him fall down anymore, the novelty had worn off.

One good thing we did was to swear off tobacco.  We were starting to get hooked to the demon weed.  Maybe what did it was the night we were drinking cooking sake from the kitchen.  We drank the bottle up and talked and smoked so much that the next day we were coughing and totally disgusted with ourselves and vowed to stop playing around with the world's most dangerous drug.  I started to give the rest of the pack to Jakushin but Koji suggested we throw it away instead.  We had a slight altercation when he threw it in the burnable trash and I pointed out that there were synthetics in the filters and the wrapper.  We finally compromised by tearing the filters off, throwing them into the unburnable can with the wrapper and dumping the shredded remains in the compost.


On my next to last morning after breakfast while Koji looked through his address book for a couple of phone numbers, I mentioned how content Norman seemed to be recently and attributed this to the soothing effects of the sesshin.

"I don't think that's it," said Koji.  "He changed when Katagiri left.  For some reason he showed his worst side to Katagiri.  I couldn't understand that."

"He sure didn't keep it in like some nationalities I know," I said.

"You Americans and your idea of 'working things out,'" he said shaking his head."

"Katagiri can deal with it."

"I admire him for that."  He stared for a moment and repeated what he had said the first time he'd talked to me about Katagiri.  "To me he's a real emptiness teacher."

Koji looked away from his address book.  "I wanted to have dokusan with Katagiri."

"Why didn't you ask?"

"I was afraid that Norman would be jealous."

"He would have been happy," I said, irritated.

"You think so?"

"Of course.  That's ridiculous Koji - Why do you keep denying yourself what you want?"

"I guess I was wrong.  Next time."


Koji gave me the addresses and phone numbers of three friends of his I should look up in different parts of Japan and I transferred them into my address book and onto the map.

"Well they've both gone to town," I said while trying to make out the kanji he used, and then, "Help me romanize this, huh?"

"Who've gone," he said reaching for his pen.

"Shuko and Norman,"

"Oh yeah, to clear up a problem with Norman's insurance."

"Uh-huh, which Norman says Shuko screwed up in the first place."

"Oh no," Koji shook his head.

"Don't worry.  Norman wasn't so concerned about that.  He said that he wanted them to talk about their problem in general."

"Japanese would just never speak to each other again."

"Well, Norman wouldn't accept that and Shuko knows they have to live together.  Norman is determined," I added. "He said that either they'd work it out or Shuko would come back stuffed in the three inch pipe that they've got to buy for the kitchen sink."