I suggested half jokingly that we give Red Shirt and Noda a solid drubbing after drinking heartily at the party. He gave it some thought but suggested we hold off for tonight. When I asked why, he explained that doing it tonight could make things harder for Koga. And if we were going to drub them, then we should catch them up to no good and pummel them right there on the spot. Otherwise we'd take blame for it. This approach showed good discretion. Even Yama Arashi seemed to think things through more thoroughly than me.
"Then build Koga up grandly in your speech. If I try it in my glib Tōkyō style it'll lack gravity. And anyway, I always suffer a sudden attack of sour stomach at the critical moment. A lump rises in my throat, and I lose my voice, so I'll leave the speaking to you." Red Shirt remarked that mine was a strange affliction and asked if it wasn't inconvenient to be silenced in public forums. I told him it wasn't really that much of a loss.
We talked further, and when the time came, we set out together for the party hall. It was a place called Kashintei, reputed to be one of the region's top restaurants. I had never set foot inside. It was said that they procured the old residence of a chief retainer and opened for business directly. It did indeed seem an imposing structure, but turning such a residence into a restaurant was akin to re-tailoring a battle coat into an undergarment.
When we arrived, our party was for the most part assembled, with several groups formed in a large hall of about 80 square meters. The alcove was impressively sized to match the hall. It was beyond comparison to the alcove in the room I'd occupied at the Yamashiroya Inn. I measured it's width at three to four meters. On the right side was a Seto vase with red glazing, into which a large pine branch had been placed. I didn't understand what significance the pine branch might be meant to convey, but it seemed like a good choice, as it would keep its needles for a number of months and no replacement cost would be incurred. I asked the natural history teacher where the Seto piece was from, and he told me it was not a Seto piece, but rather an Imari. I asked if an Imari wasn't still a Seto piece, and he laughed. I later learned that only ceramics actually made in Seto are called Seto pieces. Coming from Tōkyō, I'd thought all ceramics or pottery were referred to as Seto. In the middle of the alcove was a scroll with 28 large characters, each the size of my face. It was poorly done. It was so ugly that I asked the classics teacher how they could display such a lousy work so prominently. He informed me that the scroll was by Kaioku, a famous calligrapher. Kaioku or whomever, I still say it's lousy.