Thursday, August 16, 2007

Endless Summer

Originally Friday, July 27th

I dragged Tech Support out of bed early on Friday to hike up a mountain with me. We went over to the train station to get our passes with my mother then left her behind as we took the bus to Nanzenji.

We walked past the main temple with intent and started up the mountain path. I led us past the point we'd gotten to before and only a short while later we came to a big split in the paths and stared with confusion at the map, entirely in Japanese. Some nice men pointed in one direction and said "Daimon", and since they appeared convinced that was the way we should go I was happy to follow their direction.

Also, I realized only a few minutes later that Daimon was the name of a rather famous mountain in Kyoto.

Then we walked, and walked, and walked. My ability to read Kanji just good enough that I was able to keep us heading towards Daimon anytime there was a split in the path. Most of the way trees obscured our view, but there were a few breaks.

We worked well as a team. One of us would fade at a time, saying something like, "well, I can go a little further but we've got to stop soon" and as soon as they were ready to give up the other would say "No, I see some blue, there is a beautiful view just up ahead."

This went on for almost two hours.

Finally I was just about ready to expire but Tech Support wanted to jog ahead further. I told him I'd walk slowly behind him and we'd meet up at some point. I followed after him, and after just a few minutes he disappeared from sight. I came to a split in the road and worried he might not know which way to go, but went in the directions I was fairly certain he'd gone.

And I walked, and walked. I worried again that he'd gone a different way at the split, but knew it was far more likely he'd forgotten about time altogether. I pressed on, panting like a dog after a rather steep incline, and only worried when I got to an even bigger fork in the road. From the map it looked like something ahead was worth getting to, but first you had to go up a rather step incline.

I climbed up. Another fork, this time no signs to help you. I looked both ways. I mumbled Tech Support's name loudly, then, worried, I started back down again. He would find me when I headed back.

I paused at the bottom to look at the map one more time, and that's when I heard my name. Tech Support was at the top of the hill, and so pleased to see me. I followed after him and after a few minutes, we saw our view.

Pictures can't do it justice, we saw all of Kyoto. At once. We could see the station, where our Ryokan was, the tiny orange gate that was the massive Tori for the Heian Shrine, everything.

We sat down for a moment. Another couple was there, and older Japanese one, she was trying to talk to JR about something she'd lost on the train and was having trouble getting reception up the mountain.

Tech Support and I had run out of water, poor planning on our part, and were already dreading a bit of the downhill. While the slope was hard on our knees, we only took about an hour, half the time it took to get up, to get back down. But by the time I recognized things as being down by the base I was terrifically thirsty. It was hard not to run through the temple to the soda machines.

We caught the bus back to Kyoto station and then walked over to our Ryokan where we showered and rolled around on our futons, groaning. Tech Support got some laundry together and went down the street. I went over to visit him but the heat was so bad that even walking on the street was difficult.

(Probably my favorite shot from the trip.)

I left him with the laundry and wandered around just a tiny bit more, taking refuge in the air conditioned crafts store, then going back to meet with everyone at the Ryokan.

We had Okonomiyaki at the train station, a fun experience that involved cooking our own crazy pancake-type-thing on our table. Then went across town to Gion where we got our own booth and Karaoke'd for a few hours. Lil Bro's tempo was off but his voice surprisingly like Bob Dylan's, J-Po made everything into heavy metal, and I was totally unable to carry a tune.

Karaoke is always deceptively fun. I think an hour is enough time to sing with friends, then suddenly almost two hours have gone by and it's time to get back to the Ryokan before curfew.

No comments: