A fellow writer asked me recently whether I'd lived in Japan. The short answer is "no." The longer is more complicated. I was lucky enough to work there, with colleagues I respected and admired, and who more or less "adopted" me - arranging a tea ceremony, giving me a wonderful photo of a camellia in a vase (after measuring my suitcase to see if it would fit), regaling me with stories of how their wives handled the family pocket money, and many other tales. Visiting Tokyo, I always managed to find time to explore on my own, wandering the small alleys, pondering the shrines with red-scarved foxes, eating in tiny restaurants. We participated in the late-night conference calls and I stumbled back to my hotel while my colleagues took the hour-long train ride home. Somewhere in there, Japan lodged itself in my heart. And then...Kyoto. A month, two months...and back again. An elegant man crossed the street, his kimono fluttering in the breeze. Although it's relatively common to see a woman in kimono, it's rare for a man, except at a shrine or temple. Who was he? What prompted him to choose that garb? Almost before I knew it, he stood before me: Yoshi, the protagonist of The Thirteen Hour Man. So...no, I never lived in Japan - but he does.
Kimonos aren't the only things that fly. Beds do, too. At least if you're in Palermo. A scorching hot day, a horse neighing from a stall in a courtyard, a hose connected to the water main running up to a balcony, and another mystery to be solved: who launched that mattress from the third floor? and why? Put it down to a Midsummer fantasy. A dream. Roberto knows all about those. So does Giovanna.
On such thin threads are stories woven.