The next day, I get a text message from the ninja. “I have your details in my phone now, so please contact me by text message in the future because I am usually too busy to take calls.” I send him a reply to confirm I have got his message, thank him for his kindness, and ask for more of it in the future. The standard Japanese order of etiquette. To be applied together with horenso. It means spinach, a vegetable highly revered by many conscientious eaters because of a misplaced decimal that ended up in a gross exaggeration of its iron content. My friend Popeye rode the wave and it didn’t do him any harm. Ironic. In
But the ninja teacher has my genuine respect and I genuinely hope for his continued benevolence, so in this case, what is usually automated etiquette comes from the heart. The next day Ishizuka kindly sends me an e-mail containing details of how to get to Iga by train, and I send the ninja a message telling him I will be departing for Iga on Friday early morning but am not sure how long it will take me. I am aiming to arrive at two a’clock.
Later in the evening, I am sitting in a small Shinsaibashi bar with a friendly barkeeper who is wearing a baseball cap and admits to latent video game addiction, occasionally taking calls from a phone the shape of a giant burger, opposite Shi-chan, B-san’s student’s girlfriend, who I have met up with to inquire about the possibilities of taking on hostess work. I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. Another message from the ninja. “You’re quite a find. You don’t have to come on Friday. Come any time you are free. I will wait.” Shocked I take another sip of my yogurt and pineapple flavoured long drink, put the glass down, and apologise to Shi-chan for being so rude as to be using my mobile while we’re talking. She uses the opportunity to write a text message herself while I send another bout of heartfelt etiquette, together with the promise that I’m going this Friday if the ninja world is not too busy to audition me, and I will stay for as long as he wants me there.
I get a reply the next day. “When you get here, please tell people in the ticket booth that you’re here to meet me, so you won’t have to pay to get in. I will introduce the world karate champion to you. What is your shoe size? Please don’t be nervous and come for an enjoyable day. I will let you stay in our hotel for the night.”
Yet again, get the feeling I really HAVE got stuck in the mysterious