11. Okura Museum 1/3

Before noon in the clear autumn weather, Ryohei Tsubune, Eriko Fukami and Mari Nomizo got together at the lobby on the fifth floor of Hotel Okura in Minato Ward, Tokyo. This hotel has kept the original atmosphere for more than forty years since Kishichiro Okura, son of Kihachiro, opened it.
The lobby is just a place to rest and relax, where the three of them sat on a sofa and basked in an elegant quietness for a little while.
Mari wears a scarf of Cambodian silk, different from the krama costume at Eriko's residence the other day. This with a calm colar of bitter orange may also be a color of the folk culture, matched with the season now in Tokyo.

Okura Museum is next to the north exit of this floor. It was a little cold outside when the door opened. They looked up the museum building, shrugging their shoulders.

It is the first private museum in Japan. It was burned down during the Great Kanto Earthquake, and was rebuilt in Showa 2 (1927) by Chuta Itoh.
It is a two-story building of reinforced concrete for the resistance of earthquake and fire. The construction company was Okura Works (presently Taisei Corporation) of Kihachiro Okura, an owner.
This Chinese style museum with an imposing appearance, started to be built just after Kanematsu Auditorium.
Various ornaments are arranged at the front. Indian, Chinese, ..., all must be the collections of Old Okura. His seated bronze statue on a chair is a little beside the entrance. He is in a usual style with Japanese kimono.
Besides, there are monsters probably made by Chuta. Two turtles with a head of dragon confront each other on both sides of the narrow passage, and over there other monsters with fangs bared.

The exhibition of the mandala world was held inside both on the 1st and 2nd floors. The lady in charge guided them talking to Eriko.
They are the art of Tibetan Buddhism Old Okura used to be familiar with, and the art of Hinduism was also exhibited.

After one hour at Okura Museum, Eriko led the two to the "Terrace Restaurant" on the 1st floor of Hotel Okura. It has a casual atmosphere like a French cafe in some picture of Renoir. Conversations at home are heard at each open table.

An waitress guided them to the table facing the Japanese garden. They ordered a sandwich and coffee of their tastes.
The garden is oblong matched with the depth of the restaurant, and a little stream running down from the miniature hill at the right end flows along the terrace into the pond at the left end. Several carp are swimming in the pond.
The view is something suggestive of an elegant house in old Kyoto, a different world from the tall buildings seen off and on over there.
A couple of dead dogwoods show the change of the season and bright red firehorns bring moderate comfort.

"This is what is put together by myself," Tsubune hands out to Mari a note of several papers prepared for this meeting. It contains the things he experienced in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnum. The companies, friends, acquaintances, ..., he got along with at each country.
"Thanks a lot."
Mari looks through it carefully.
"It will surely be helpful to me. Thank you again."
"The people marked up are familiar to me," saying it, Tsubune asks Mari.
"I haven't heard the most important thing from yourself, right?"
"Yes, you are right. Then, ..."
She has prepared it in heart. She begins to talk, showing him the snapshots with Mr. Fallet in Cambodia. The backgrounds of their pictures are all the famous sightseeing spots like the sunrise at Angkor Wat, the South Large Gate at Angkor Thom, the sunset at Phnom Bakheng, ...

Mr. Fallet seems to be in a slender and muscular body with a dark, firm face. In every picture, he is in a beaming expression, but is standing stiff and still. The height is a head taller than Mari, which means he is rather tall for his Southern birth place.
He truly looks sincere, so Tsubune felt he is in contrast to open-hearted Mari.
"As you may have heard from my aunt, we met each other during our university days. Since the graduation of both of us we have been intimate. Though we are far away from each other, we have often been getting together."
"You were a student of the Spanish faculty at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS), weren't you?"
Mari answers Tsubune.
"He was majoring in comparative culture at his 3rd grade of the faculty of Japanese language there when I entered it. After graduating from Phnom Penh University, he entered our TUFS here in Japan. Since his family is rich, there was no worry about the school expense, but he seems not to have relied on the money from his parents. He said the part-time job at the Cambodian Embassy in Tokyo was useful to his study, too, and also the pay was good enough for the school expenses. He speaks the Japanese Language just like me, and moreover he can teach English and French. So, after graduation, he started the travel agency in Siem Reap."
Mari shows the several pictures of Mr. Fallet's company.
"The company has about twenty employees including guides. I hear it can deal with guests from the world. Since there have been the sightseeing people from Japan there, he has often been mobilized himself, too."
"All of them have a good smile, don't they? Isn't it their racial character?"
Tsubune is talking to the picture.
Eriko has something to say to Mari.
"Cambodia is called a country of smile, isn't it?"
Mari answers, smiling.
"I like Siem Reap, so I am looking forward to living there, where, according to the Cambodian Embassy, I can make use of my teacher's license. So most probably, I will engage in some educational job there. I cannot speak the Khmer language, but can speak English, Spanish and French."
And she talks to Eriko in flattering eyes.
"I will also continue to draw pictures there."
"Sure, you will."
Tsubune responds with empty compliment.
Mari does not seem to notice it, and says with more dream, idly looking at the garden.
"I intend to launch the NPO for environmental protection there in the future. As you may know, the cultural heritages including the Angkor ruins have inexorably been destroyed since the Pol Pot adminisrtation. In addition lately, the impetuous invitation of tourists has made a bad influence, too. Now sending out the information through Internet has power, so I hope it can be helpful to me."
With her eyes turning to the garden again, her talk is getting bright more and more.
"He doesn't seem to end his life only with the travel agency either. He is taking on some public jobs. Therefore I believe the time will come for our couple together to help improve Cambodia."
Mari's dream widens endlessly.
On the contrary, Tsubune feels some worry and irritation.

"I hear your parents were against your marriage."
Tsubune says frankly. Mari seems to have expected this question.
"Yes, they were, from the beginning. They tried to let me leave him showing me profile photos of prospective partners again and again. But as I didn't change my mind at all, they seem to have given up now. I suppose it is also partly because my elder sister's couple were blessed with a baby."
Tsubune: "And? What is your sister's idea?"
Mari: "She is in favor, anyway. I explained enough to let her understand."
Tsubune: "How about Mr. Fallet's parents?"
Mari: "They were also against at first, but I went over there to meet and express myself to them."
Tsubune: "And then?"
Mari: "I had difficulty a little, but they accepted me at last."
Tsubune: "Good for you. Anyway, an international marriage looks nice to casual onlookers all right, but it encounters many troubles. The most obvious evidence is the high divorce rate. It shows how many such couples became unhappy. There are uncountable divorces even as far as I know."
Mari: "..."
Tsubune, so obstinate as not to take back: "Besides, your story seems too rosy, as if you might hold a magic stick. So, every difficult problem would be solved by the stick. It sounds no less marriage with a wealthy man than any others. Mr. Fallet is, as it were, a rose without thorns."
Mari: "Without thorns?"
Tsubune: "Yes, it means you may not know his true figure yet."
Mari: "Stop it, please."
Mari gives him a sharp glance.
Tsubune: "I am talking, fully aware of it. I don't mind you are offended. You are supposedly still in 'Love is blind.' Both of you will most probably find defects and dark sides of each other from now on. And also some circumstances not to get over by ordinary efforts. Nevertheless, since you have already decided it, I think nothing can stop you. I hope my worry will be ended unnecessary. Please be a couple to receive the grace from the parents of both sides. Persuasion is not a goal."
Mari does not change her grim look.
Eriko has been a listener through here as she told her opinion to Mari completely before. Her sad experience in the past may have come back to her mind.

11-1 Reading: 17'23"
If the above does not open by chance, Reading: 17:23
< 10. To Musashino 2 11. Okura Museum 2 >
11. Okura Museum
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Frontcover @  8. Birth of College
1. Old Cox  9. Great Earthquake
2. Monsters  10. To Musashino
3. Begin to Search  11. Okura Museum
4. Chase  12. Architect
5. Shibusawa  13. Romanesque
6. Dawn  14. Four God Statues
7. Shinyu Case  15. Then
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