Thanks to the soaking we received in Kamikochi (and indeed, on nearly all the days prior), I was in a Mood on our last night in Takayama. Maggie was being as good as could be, but one has to grade on a curve when dealing with a toddler. We were tired and cranky. So at 2am, when I was feeling the effects of my first infection in eighteen months of nursing and the left side of my torso felt like it had been dipped in chile oil and lit aflame, when my bedmate Maggie was digging her feet into my kidneys and fingers into my hair every few minutes and then when Tom began snoring…well, you’ll forgive me if my only thought between the sleepless hours of 2am-6am was “I WANT A DIVORCE FROM THIS WHOLE FAMILY.” I needed a lot of vending machine coffee the next morning in order to put on a cheery face.
Fortunately, Kyoto is good for that. We arrived early in the afternoon and the hotel let us check in early, so we got to rest a bit and regroup. The city is insanely easy to navigate by bus, so we set out toward Ginkaku-ji and the Path of Philosophy. As luck would have it, we got there just in time to take advantage of the light of those pre-sunset golden hours.
When faced with colors as gorgeous as those, a traveler would do well to say “Welp, I guess I better shut up and enjoy” and so I did.
It was all too easy to get caught up in the light of Kyoto. Tom wanted to see a shrine (I can’t remember which one, there are seriously about 1600 of them in Kyoto) near the end of the Path of Philosophy so he suggested we pick up the pace. We immediately had a good laugh over how screwed up it was to say something like that in a place called the Path of Freakin’* Philosophy.
We ended up missing the shrine he wanted to see because we stumbled on a smaller one that was overseen by a kindly grandfather type who hustled two of his grandkids (about 3 and 18 months, and their mother had a newborn, bless her heart) out to play with Maggie. Maggie, antisocial little cuss that she is, took a while to warm up even when the little girl offered her a gift. The girl had better luck with Tom.
If you’re curious, the gift was a bolt she found on the ground. Maggie did eventually warm up and in the spirit of intercultural sharing showed these polite, friendly Japanese children how American toddlers party: they beat up expensive stationary objects.
Partially shown: Tom rushing to break up the hooligans. Not shown: Me nearly fainting from mortification.
After their long playtime and spirited game of Whack-a-Prius, the temple we had originally wanted to see was closed. That’s okay, because the next day we saw so many things to make up for it.
Like the Bamboo Forest:
And Maggie being generally delightful:
But you see that little thing in the background? That gleaming thing? That, friends, is Kinkaku-ji, or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
That threw a whole bunch of sunshine onto our trip, let me tell you.
We saw so much beauty in Kyoto; I could post for days about what we were able to do and see. But what I took away from our time there is that sometimes travel sucks. Sometimes you aren’t going to have the experience you wanted. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes you have a medical malady that leaves you worrying you’ll have to pantomime “infected breast” to a Japanese doctor. You just never know. But keep going and push through; do whatever it takes to keep up a good attitude. Fake it ’til you make it, if you must.
But keep going forward…because you just may get to see the light.