Thursday, September 9, 2010

the red beard experience

When we stepped off of the plane at Narita Airport, Sam had been allowing his normally half inch beard to grow for about a month. That means it was probably a good inch to an inch and a half long, and longer by the end of the trip. And we all know it is a lovely shade of red.

Needless to say, both the size and color are something of a rarity in Japan, and Sam got a decent number of looks and comments throughout the trip. My favorite beard event, though, was in Arashiyama, just outside of Kyoto.

We stopped into a small shop to look at some tanuki statues, and my friend Mayo and I started chatting (in Japanese) to the older woman who owned the shop. Almost immediately, she began admiring Sam's beard. At one point she said, "You know, you could turn his head upside down and he'd still look the same!"

As was my custom, I turned to Sam to tell him what she'd said, but she looked horrified and pleaded with me to stop, saying, "No! No! Don't tell him I said that!! I'd be embarrassed!" So I held off until after we'd left the shop with one bought statue and one the woman gave Sam as a gift.

It's a few months later now, and the Japanese travel agency I use is having a senryu 川柳 (comic haiku) contest on the topic of travel experiences. I wrote two about Sam's beard in Japan, one referring to the story I just told. (I didn't try to keep to 5-7-5 when putting them in English.)

「大ひげを ひっくり返すと 髪の毛よ」
(His big beard turned upside down is his head of hair!)

「おばさんは 彼の赤ひげ 撫でてみる」
(The old women love to pet my boyfriend's red beard.)

Coincidentally, I got a package in the mail last week from Mayo in which she included this awesome drawing she'd done of a Japanese version of Sam. Her senryu about Sam's beard is equally amusing.

「ひげありし 男の親せき ライオンか」
(With that beard, I wonder if his relatives are lions.)

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