Chapter #5 - Nihon…how beautiful are you?
The next day I left for Japan. I was so looking forward to it. I know I can be more at ease in Japan since I was just there last year.
If I may digress… I have seen a few countries and thoroughly enjoyed visiting all. However, this one captured my soul. Japan is and always will be first on my list. My opinion has nothing to do with beautiful temples, scenic areas, cleanest hotels, amazing architecture, excellent 1st-grade convenient stores, extremely well-organized railway system, to name a few.
All the credit goes to the people in Japan. This is where I say the phrase ‘people make the country’ is more appropriate. People there are the most polite, well-mannered, well focused, extremely organized and go out of their way to help others. I loved every second of it while I was there last year.
Now back to my story. I reached Japan on 19th, which was my Mom and Dad’s 60th wedding anniversary day.
By the time I reached my hotel and settled down, it was around 3 pm ish, so I decided to just walk around the hotel, and inquired about tourist spots and got information on a temple, which is a 25-minute walk from the hotel. So I made plans to go there the next day. The receptionist was trying to explain with a really thick accent as to how to get there and I was focusing on what she was saying but not really understanding it. In the meantime, there was this young British guy, who heard that and came over and explained to me how to get there and gave me directions. The receptionist was happy that I was happy.
I walked through the little street while looking at these little shops and finally reached the temple. Guess what… it really took exactly 25 minutes!!
The temple is called Shinshoji temple. It is a Buddhist temple. It was amazing, beautiful and they had a ceremony, which reminded me of temple ceremonies in India. The chanting sounded like Aum…..”.It was peaceful and very scenic. I was there for a couple of hours admiring the sculptures. I sort of lost in thought and all the stuff I was going through for the past few days not to mention since my CC incident, all of that did not even matter anymore.
It was time for me to get back to the hotel. It should be simple enough. Just walk back the way I came right? NOOOOOOOOPE ☹…
I was trying to find my way back. I saw a large store, which looked like a fancy bakery. I went in to ask for directions. As soon as I stepped in 4 young ladies immediately came to me, formed a line, bowed towards me and started to say something in Japanese.
I was a bit baffled right at that moment. Are they thinking I am some sort of a ‘Princess’!! Oh…all right…okay…’Queen’. I think I have already passed the princess stage!
Then I thought, maybe there is someone behind me? I looked behind but there was no one! So I started to bow too. Ha! ha! ha! Then I realized based on what they said they were greeting me as a customer. Well so much for my convoluted imagination thinking I was ‘A princess’!! Sorry… ‘A Queen’!!!
[Based on my parent’s comments, I am still a princess in their eyes….so there!!!] Okay, enough of my self-admiration!
I started to tell them that I was lost and need to go to my hotel. I gave them the name of the hotel. They talked amongst themselves to figure out what I said and became so excited to help me.
One lady started to explain in Japanese and a few words of English. I couldn’t understand and showed my blank face with a puzzled look. The second lady jumped in started to explain a bit differently, I still showed my blank face but with a smile.
Another lady immediately said…”aaah…" and signaled me to wait, and then went to an older lady and explained my situation to her, and brought her to me. As soon as I saw her I knew she would probably know how to explain in English.
She comes and bows to me. I reciprocated and explained again in English and she was so enthused (that made me think these people are so special not like any others I have encountered) and immediately goes to one counter and gets me a card with a street map and in her own accent she shows me where I am on the map and how to get to the hotel. It would take another 15 minutes to walk.
I thanked them all from the bottom of my heart saying 'Arigato Guzaimassu' to each one of them. Started to leave and once again they bowed standing in a straight line. I bowed even more and left with a happy heart.
I kept the card that the lady gave me. I will keep it with me forever with fond memories.
While walking I spoke to another lady on the way. She was the owner of one of the shops. She smiled at me and said something. I didn’t know what. It is funny because we both did not know what the other person was saying but our faces were all full of ‘smiles’. People like that make our world a better place to live.
Finally, I reached my hotel relaxed and had coffee. Then went to the receptionist desk to get information about the next day’s agenda, which is 21st, the only day left before I leave for LA on 22nd.