Up at 7am, a quick breakfast and into the car off to Julia’s. Julia and Peter and their daughter (all of whom, I should mention, are unusually tall – not that we had warned Mutty of this) live in an old house on the edges of a typically English village in the middle of nowhere and at the end of half mile long shared private lane.
The route Peter has chosen involved clambering over fences (some electric – which the dog discover in the worst way possible), down long unused overgrown pathways fighting nettles and holly, and trekking up and down woods trying to find the best paths.
Every now and then Julia would take the time to lecture – I mean, explain to – Mutty on some particular feature of the landscape, some finer points of English culture or share details of her own exposure to the Japanese world. Mutty seemed to enjoy these discourses (although with Julia towering over her and clearly a strong minded women she might have just been taking the most sensible course of action).
Two hours later, tired but happy we had some quick refreshments at Julia’s house and headed for home.
Mutty went food shopping with Host Mother whilst Host Father took Younger Host Sister off to another audtion session and his mother off for some shopping.
To Mutty’s surprise. Host Father plays Shogi, Japanese Chess. He is not especially good at it as he gets to play it very rarely. The game is hardly known of in England. He first came across it around 20 years ago when reading an article in a computer magazine about games that were hard to computerise. Western Chess is easy to computerise by comparison. He obtained a special westernised set, that instead of Japanese characters, or just western initial letters, has attractive stylised graphics to represent the moves of the pieces. This makes it easier to teach other western people who can play western chess how to play Shogi. He has obtained a Japanese set of pieces as well though. Mutty and Host Father then proceed to play starting with him with the styilised set and her with the Japanese pieces (both working to recognise the pieces on the opposing side by their starting position). As play proceeded (with Host Father having to remind Mutty of the rules every now and then: so she clearly has not played much herself) they players increasingly strained to remember which piece was which. (Western chess players should note that Shogi pieces are tapered and point in the direction of the enemy and when you capture a piece it becomes your own piece and can be used against your opponent.) At least they had an equal challenge. Both players made some serious mistakes because they made the wrong assumption about an opposing piece. Host Father won in the end, but only just. He needs to learn the Japanese set now ready for the next game.