During the night, I found myself back in Japan to pay a visit to the junior high school where I taught a decade ago.
It was completely unrecognizable. The buildings were unlike those I remember.
Gone was the familiar oval dirt running track. In its place was a sprawling, rectangular expanse of manicured, deep-green grass on which the students were flying an enormous, diamond-shaped kite of a golden hue that was breathtaking in the sunlight.
The kite was so large that students were strapped to the ends of its cross-brace to give it stability in the wind.
Then I was ushered into a dimly lit building where a ceremony to honor Japan's military and civilian war dead was about to start.
On the steps leading up to the building, a fellow foreigner asked me to identify a Buddhist relic he had purchased, a kitchen timer in the shape of a lotus on a long stalk. It's from the Shingon sect, I told him, and he melted away.
Upon entering the building, the drone of chatter stopped and the room grew silent as a tomb as a square table was brought in. The table was covered by a dark cloth, and a similar cloth was draped over the centerpiece.
The attendees formed two or three single-file lines facing the table.
Officiating was one of the teachers I had known long ago, a short, stocky, cheerful fellow who had played American football for his college club team in Tokyo.
In the dream, he was of a solemn, deadly serious demeanor I had never seen during the years I knew him in real life.
The table was wheeled into place and the cloth was taken off the centerpiece: A World War II military hat encircled by several Homburgs and fedoras from the same period.
I thought to myself what a poignant tribute this was.
The teacher said a few words I couldn't quite catch and then bowed deeply to the memorial.
Everyone followed suit. In front of me was another teacher friend. His bow was so formal, so deep that it sent me, the last person in line, sliding clear out the door of the building as if I had been propelled backward on ice.
The last part of the dream I still remember is that I began to cry over the powerful symbolism of this memorial, hats whose owners had been killed.
Thank you for this dream, Mr. Guinness and your incomparable stout.