May 24:

Travel day. Took train from Tenri to Fukuoka in Hakata Prefecture and checked into the hotel. The room was very small, seemingly about as big as an office cubicle. The whole group went out to a restaurant and had a great dinner of mizutake.

May 25:

We took the shinkansen to Kumamoto and met with Jeff Cairns, a shakuhachi player and maker who lives in the local area and makes a living as an ESL teacher and plays occasional musical gigs. Jeff is an interesting fellow, very friendly and seemingly possessed of an imperturbable composure at all times.  He took us around to the Kumamoto Castle where we spent a lot of time exploring the grounds and also visited a museum devoted to the castle and its renovation. In the evening we all went out to a restaurant that had a funny name (which I don’t exactly recall) in downtown Kumamoto where we had a very elaborate multi-course meal, including beer and sake, with with Jeff, his charming wife Kyoko, and a couple of shakuhachi-playing friends that Jeff knows.  As we came out of the restaurant a street mime (they actually have street mimes in Japan!) posed next to Heidi while I took a picture.