After my lesson with Ibarako, I didn’t have a great deal of time to do much of anything before it would be time to watch blondiekatie’s lesson. Grabbed some lunch – sat and absorbed everything I had learned.

Blondiekatie tied with a new model, “Y” – someone we had met at Yagami Ren’s apartment the Friday before. I had the opportunity to briefly tie with her during one of my lessons too. A different experience than working with an “experienced” model. “Y” is sweet and a bit shy. An artist by trade. And flexible? Oh, my… And that opened-up an opportunity for blondiekatie to spend over 2 hours working variations on the first “Greeting” tie. It was quite a lesson in looking for, and taking opportunitiy to continue a scene – reading the model’s body and openness to let the tie take you both where it will…
At the end of K’s lesson, it was proposed that we all go out and celebrate the work we had done. A fun dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s in Ikebukuro followed. And on our return to the Dojo, I was invited to watch Steve tie “Y” in a private session. Which was a Master’s class in connection.

Friday, my last day in Tokyo this trip, was a little longer than normal. Usually, I fly out at about 3:00 in the afternoon. This one I had until 7:00. So there was time to do a thing or two, rather than simply eat breakfast, grab my bags, and head to Haneda.

And unlike the fairly dreary weather of most of the trip, Friday dawned clear and bright. Another of those times when I feel so strongly the connection I have with Japan.

Zetsu and I have a fairly long relationship of correspondance, but we’d never gotten the chance to meet face-to-face. But his arrival Thursday evening, overlapped with my late-Friday departure, and we agreed to meet for breakfast in Shinjuku.

I tried to arrive a few minutes early, but riding up the escalator, wasn’t hard to spot the somewhat travel-worn, western guy already standing there. We exchanged greetings, and real names. And then he looked straight at me and asked, “So, what ties have you learned this trip?” I knew at that moment I liked this guy. Smart-asses of a feather…. And after waiting for quite some time for a table, enjoyed a lingering breakfast and conversation. Comparing notes and experiences. Discussing how we try and explain the difference between the connective nature of Kinbaku versus the “circus rope” we see people constantly doing. And yes, a bit of gossip as well…

All too soon it was time for him to continue on to business meetings, and me to start moving in the direction of final packing to leave.

With a bit of time available, and the day so clear and bright, I wandered around Shinjuku for a while. Walked over to the business district, and spent a little time in Shinjuku Central Park. I was considering going back up to the Seiji Tojo Art Museum, but decided I should probably head on back up to Ikebukuro.

It’s always a bit emotional to reach the last day of a visit to Tokyo. I had a surge of that walking along the streets of Ikebukuro. Appreciating the time I had enjoyed. But grieving the end of it. For now.

Picked up some lunch and back to the Dojo to gather my bags. Final check of bags, shut-down everything in the VIP Suite, and dropped keys in the door slot.

One thing I try and do on flights is adapt to my destination. Which goes against the common practice of “ship-time” which keeps the clock onboard at the time of the departure location – not the destination. You’re fed and lights go out when it is dark where you came from. So, I tend to be awake when others are sleeping. Which allows me the pleasure of chatting with flight crews who are otherwise basically bored. And they are almost always willing to brew a fresh pot of coffee.

Still night-time in NM, I slept for about 3-1/2hrs after dinner. And when I woke, raised the shade to have a look at the sky. It is Geminid Meteor shower time. And in the first minute of watching, viewed about a dozen lingering streaks of light. The sky at 35000ft is incredibly clear so far above the clouds. In 20 minutes time, I probably saw 50 meteorites fall. Even for someone used to the high altitude and clear skies of NM, that was pretty impressive.

As I noted before, the flight back to LAX was shorter – by almost 2 hours – than normal. But that left me with well over 8hrs of layover. Something I will do my best to avoid in the future. That’s too long to sit idle on such a transit. But I was surprised by an offer to leave the airport for a while, have some lunch and visit with an acquaintance recently relocated to L.A. Thanks again to “D”, that layover wasn’t quite so bad. We caught-up over lunch, and visited the Santa Monica Pier. Interesting sensation to view the Pacific Ocean from both sides in the same day.

When you add the 16 hours time difference back into your normal 24 hour day – well, that’s a pretty damned long day…. And wearing when I slept only about 4hrs on the plane. Two weeks is plenty long to de-acclimate from life at 7500′ altitude. Dry air here has made it hard to stay hydrated as well. It’s a hard transition….

So what better thing to do than have a party! Back in the U.S. for less than 24hrs, we had a nice gathering here at the Juku to tie and catch up with the group. It was enjoyable, and I managed to stay awake!

One other conversation from Tokyo stands out. The question was about the difference between coming to a passion for rope bondage at a young age, versus being a bit older. I was 50 or so when I started taking this seriously. Can someone with a few more years bring the same passion as a younger person? I don’t know why not. While a younger person is easily excited by new prospects, and has a bit more space in their brain, I think having some maturity can bring a sharper focus and intent. I do struggle a bit with memorization. But being kind to myself – especially when getting frustrated with learning to speak Japanese – I have reminded myself that’s always been the case. I’ve gotta’ “do” for things to stick. But once they’re in me – well, I haven’t started losing much any of it yet…

So, now I return to “normal” life. Back to the other kind of work. But I’ll continue to be tying as often as I can. Applying what I’ve learned. And working to be ready for the next trip, when I’ll learn again even more. And be ready as I can to perform…….

Thanks again to my Sensei, Osada Steve for his patience, knowledge (and occasional “bs”…) – my new Sensei, Himuro Eve and Sensei Ibarako for their amazing lessons – NdT, for supporting and helping arrange for those amazing lessons – my friend “J”, for her lovely, receptive passion for being tied – all the models I worked with – my new friend, blondiekatie – Zetsu – Chris – and of course, the three guys who make such amazing sushi for me…. You all, and others too, made this another truly amazing experience.