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August 10th, 2007

Last Sunday was the first anniversary of Sachi and I meeting. We took the morning off, and then celebrated in the evening.

I had been preparing for this for a while. Every three months since we met, I would get Sachi another three small stuffed dogs, from a line put out by a company that had a large variety of breeds, nicely crafted. So before this anniversary, she had nine little dogs. For this anniversary–a yearly thing instead of quarterly–I decided to go whole hog. I found stuffed dogs at several different places, finally having to go down to the Ginza to find one that I wanted to top things off.

Here’s how I arranged it: when Sachi and I left for dinner, I made an excuse to run back in to the apartment (I intentionally left a fan running so I could go back and turn it off). That gave me the chance to leave the first present out on the dining room table: a small basket with two tiny stuffed dogs in it. Each of these came with a card with a note inside. When we came back from dinner, Sachi found the first dogs, and the note told her that the dogs “bigger brothers and sisters” were hiding under the bed because they were afraid of the fireworks.


This worked out really well, in fact: we unexpectedly got treated to two fireworks shows at dinner. We ate at a restaurant on the 58th floor of the Sunshine 60 Building, the view out the window looking down on our own building. It’s a nice place, with multi-course dinners; reasonably priced, but food and service equivalent to a more expensive restaurant. We arrived at 6:30 and left at 8:30, which happens to be the time frame for fireworks in Japan during the summer. One show started to the northeast, relatively distant–but it was pretty big, and was nice to watch. But then another show started up a lot closer, and that was even nicer. Almost all the way through dinner we watched the shows. So when we came back, that first note “from” the two tiny puppies made sense in a way I had not intended.

In any case, the note with the first two puppies led Sachi to the drawer under the bed, where I had placed six stuffed dogs, of the same kind I had given her before (she now has 15 in total).


Their note gave clues as to where the next dog was “hiding,” a floppily-stuffed yellow lab about a foot long. His note led to the back of the top shelf where we keep the towels, where I’d stashed his “bigger brother,” a two-foot-long version of the same dog.


The note on that one led to their “even bigger brother,” who was “hanging out in the closet.” I had that rather large 3-foot stuffed dog–the biggest version of the same dog–suspended from the coat rack in a closet Sachi uses for winter-wear storage. That dog directed her to ask me for the final dog.


Sachi loves Shiba Inu dogs. They’re kind of like small versions of huskies, the most common type being light brown with white underneath and some spots of white on the face. But finding stuffed Shibas is very hard. In Japan, Shibas are popular, but for some reason they don’t make stuffed Shibas much–and when they do, they do them rather poorly. But at the Ginza store, I found a very nice stuffed Shiba puppy doll, which was perfect as the final gift.


The notes on each had more than just directions to the next dog, but that will remain private. Needless to say, Sachi enjoyed them thoroughly–but later, she mentioned that I had better stop getting her dogs, as we were quickly running out of places to put them.

The exercise also proved difficult in terms of setting it all up. The anniversary was Sunday evening, but after Friday afternoon I knew that Sachi and I would be together all the time–so I had to set them all up before then. The problem: we have a small apartment–not too many good hiding places–and they all had to be in places where Sachi would not find them by accident. I could not even steer her away from the hiding places all the time, because Saturday afternoon I was out for six hours at the graduation ceremony for my school, while Sachi relaxed at home. And even though I did find good places, it was almost undone when Sachi text-messaged me at the ceremony, asking where I had stored the ironing machine. I knew exactly where it was: right next to the medium-sized dog on the back of the top towel shelf. I had to tell her that she couldn’t iron anything that afternoon.

Not that she was surprised; she figured that there would be stuffed dogs involved, and I’ve done the treasure-hunt game before. She just didn’t know the extent I had gone to. As we went shopping before dinner, she speculated on how many dogs, what sizes, and so forth while I kept mum. She only guessed as high as three dogs, though–not twelve. I kept the secret pretty well.

Sachi, on the other hand, is not nearly as good at keeping secrets. Two of the three times she has gotten me gifts, she has accidentally blurted out what she got me. This time it was at Eddie Bauer, just before dinner, when we were looking at clothes I could buy. I mentioned that I should get some new short pants. Now, Sachi could have said something like, “the shirts you’re getting today are enough for now,” or “I know a better shop to go to for that,” or something else which would not have roused my suspicions. Instead, she blurted, “I got you a pair already!”–and then was instantly annoyed that I had “made her” tell me what (part of) her present was. She couldn’t be mad, of course, but for a while we had fun while I teased her about not being able to keep a secret well, while she just as kiddingly blamed me for tearing the secret out of her. (She told me lightheartedly that I was “ijiwaru,” or being mean.)

It was a fun evening.

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