Our long awaited 5 month adventure in Kyoto has finally begun.
We arrived a couple of days ago in Kyoto and because it was Sunday, our flat wasn’t ready so we had to stay at a hostel for the night. Or so we thought. Actually, it turned out we were staying at someone’s house. Literally.
So we got out of the rail station, tired and drowsy, and we started to walk down Kyoto’s tranquil back alleys. The only audible sound was our luggage rolling on concrete. 15 minutes later, we manage to find the house, Guesthouse Kanwando. Small and cute, hidden by the trees, it looked like we were in Alice’s Wonderland. And I was small enough to fit through the door!
And there we are, waiting in front of the door with our bags. The owner spots us just as we’re about to knock. He tries to help us with the luggage. But it’s quite impossible, the guy is stick thin, and our suitcases are too heavy (like the dutiful girl that I am, I thoroughly complied with the 30 kg weight allowance). We finally manage to drag the bags into the house, and we’re in.
And what a funky place it is! There are dozens of shoes carefully lined up at the entrance and we remembered that in Japan it is very rude to enter someone’s house with shoes on. Fine, shoes off then. We enter the main room and manage to get a better look at our host: a mixture of John Lennon and Bob Marley, the Japanese version. Shiny long black hair down to the waist, soft voice and hippie allure, speaking just a hint of English but enough to get his sense of humor across.
He shows us to our room, Japanese style with a futon (mattress on the floor) and some funky wall decorations, relaxing music playing in the background. He explains the basic stuff: operating the shower, using the right slippers for the toilet, cranking up the A/C to heat up the room. All well and good, but he forgets to explain how to shut the door. There’s just a curtain and no sign of a door. He laughs and then does some magic: he slides the door out from inside the wall, and then just steps out of the room. He goes upstairs to his own room, and we fall to sleep almost immediately to dreams of zen Japanese villages.
The next morning, we wake up early due to the jet lag and also because we need to check into our new apartment. We’re about to leave the house when we realize a funny thing: our shoes’ position had been changed overnight. We had left them facing inward, and now they were facing outwards. Bob Marley must have discretely switched them overnight, while we were asleep. I like to think of him as a dreadlocked shoe fairy, going about in the middle of the night fixing ignorant foreigners’ mistakes.
No doubt this looks like the beginning of a beautiful Japanese experience.
More to follow.