After the formalities were ended, a sipping sound broke out on all sides. I followed suit and tasted my soup. It was awful. Kamaboko had been served as a side dish, but it was dark in color, looking rather like a failed attempt at chikuwa. We had sashimi too, but it was thick, like eating a raw bluefin fillet cut. Even so, those around me were indulging voraciously. Most likely they'd never had authentic Edo-style cuisine.
Bottles of warm saké began flowing back and forth, and the party came to life. Noda was in front of the principal, reverently toasting his health. What a jerk. Uranari was making the rounds, intending to exchange a drink with each member in attendance. A formidable task. He came to my spot, straightened the pleats of his hakama, and proposed that we drink. Though uncomfortable in my trousers, I sat formally on my heels and poured him a cup. I said it was a shame to be saying farewell so soon after my arrival, and I asked him for his departure date so I could see him off at the shore. He replied that I mustn't bother when I was so busy. Regardless of his objection, it was my firm intention to see him off, even if it meant a break from my duties at the school.
Over the next hour the gathering grew livelier still. "One more." "Have a drink." ... one or two began slurring their words. I grew weary of it, so I went to the toilet and then stood gazing at the old-style garden bathed in soft starlight. Yama Arashi approached and asked me, with a great deal of self satisfaction, if his speech hadn't been impressive. I told him it had indeed, but there was one point I took exception to. He asked where it was that I disagreed.