I crossed the bridge from Fujisawa to Enoshima Island on foot. A good twenty-minute walk in the early winter sun, not a bit of sweat and more than a bit of lightness in my step. Just fresh sea air and the sound of laughter. It was the kind of day I might have had in a dream.
That day when I got to the road leading up to the shrine there was a smallish crowd of tourists climbing up the road with me. Along the road were all kinds of shops. Some were the kind that had tacky touristy things, flip flops and shirts and plastic shovels so that kids could play on the beach. Others were shops with tinted windows and the trappings of long years of dignity — est. 1952, one said. The shop did nothing more than serve as a tea and coffee house, but its dignity had market value that only the owners understood.
I stopped and looked through a shop window with traditional glassware. It was neither tacky nor overly dignified. It was just a simple glassware shop. Here and there I saw little samurai and other creatures.
Which one am I? I thought. I looked around and noticed that several were clustered together oddly.
Suddenly, a voice came to me.
“Yasui yo (cheap),” a shopkeeper was saying to me.
She had appeared from out of the store, perhaps because I had been lingering. Then suddenly she started talking very fast and I had trouble keeping up with her.
A stranger interjected helpfully, an old Japanese man with thick glasses. “She says that there are several that are half price because they have little pieces missing.”
I looked closely at the glassware in the window of the store. I couldn’t see any pieces missing. They were so small it was hard to see what exactly was wrong.
“You like glassware, young man?” the old man with the glasses asked me. “She makes the best glassware.”
I waved my hand, apologized, and said that I must be on my way.
I continued up the road trying to imagine people as little glassware models.