I arrived and was shown into a tatami [reed floor matting] chapel with an altar that was, at most, 18″ off the floor. The 6 or so Sisters were already there, piously silent and, sitting on their heels, were waiting for the Mass to begin.
I got through the opening, the readings and the homily, I believe, without incident. Then came the Offertory. All went well with the bread. I then reached across the patten for the Cup. The hosts disappeared up the right arm of my alb [vestment]. I looked at the Sisters. All of them seemed composed and had downcast eyes. I shook my arm with increasing vigor and managed to dislodge the hosts.
Mass proceeded. We got to the end of the Eucharist, where I had also been sitting seiza [on my heels] and I stood up. My ankles, however, had gone to sleep and I toppled instantly and with lots of noise to the floor.
The poor Madams, who had obviously observed the whole previous charade, could control themselves no longer. I was suddenly faced with a group of nuns lying on the floor, screaming helplessly with laughter and beating the tatami with their fists.
Months later, I would see a couple of nuns [not just Madams of the Sacred Heart] walking along some Tokyo street or other. One of them would notice me and indicate my presence to her companion. They’d both start sniggering…