What a long year.
The distance of space and time between here and our stop in that hot spring hot spot, Beppu seems a dreamy yesteryear misty in the steam from her own natural spas...
But as we gather our hems and cross into a new year of this Roman calender our hearts and minds and pancreas call out to what was Overture's creative start for 2006. The places we visited, the SweatLodge exhibition, the mountains, the water...
And the people.
Beppu and Oita are filled with fantastic characters and a few from our own Tokyo family added to its richness during our stay. But there is one character, not playing such a prominent role in our adventures, but making enough of an impact to recur in the stories we tell bedside each night.
By all appearances a very normal Japanese boy, well manicured and dressed, a bit shy, a bit reserved. He worked at the gallery where SweatLodge was held and spoke very little with us, taking care of things in the back as our friend helped to manage and organize our exhibition.
Some days, however, our friend had to travel to Fukuoka or Nagasaki on business and could not be around to receive us when we arrived or take care of certain packages we needed shipping or answer our questions.
On these days we would have to deal with Little Marshmallow. At first we thought nothing of him. As mentioned, he was in every way a very average Japanese youth in his mid-twenties.
Very average, that is, save his head was a marshmallow. A clean, buoyant (though we never touched it) pure white marshmallow. It gave off no scent and we would never have ever realized his condition had we not had to deal with him directly. For when he spoke his voice was so muted and muffled by the spongy, sugary mass of his head it was impossible to make out what he was saying.
Asking Little Marshmallow to speak up was of no use, either. To strain his voice only produced a suffocated whisper and so one had nothing to do but lean over the counter at the gallery/store and try to make out the little words passing between his little pursed lips.
At first it was admittedly irritating but who can stay mad at a marshmallow?