Monday, August 7, 2017

Kansai Diaries: Koyasan Sidewalk Shorts

The moments I remember most when I traveled to Japan by myself were not the sights, although yes they were quite beautiful, but the random people who stopped to chat with me.

Daimon

From Daimon, the enormous gate that marks the entrance to Koyasan, I walked and walked and walked because I didn't have the patience to wait for the bus. Besides, it was such a lovely, cold day; a good day for a walk and I wanted to see the town, not just zoom past it.

The streets of Koya Town

Across this bridge is a playground

Half an hour later, I was still halfway to my guesthouse. The light was fading and the temperature was dropping. I stopped at a bus stop and checked the schedule. If I understood it correctly, a bus was scheduled to arrive in 10 minutes or so. So I stood and waited and gazed at the farthest point in the road to see if any bus was coming. Tick tock, tick tock. No bus in sight, but an open bed truck slowed down and parked near where I was standing. The pudgy driver, maybe in his sixties, in grey overalls, got off his truck and smiled and talked to me...in Japanese with a sprinkling of English words. He asked me a few curious questions like where I'm from, if I was traveling by myself, etc. It was a welcome small talk.

Did the bus ever come? No, and I resumed walking.


 An elephant near the bus stop

Continue walking

The bus did catch up with me a stop or two away and I got on. I have an unlimited bus pass, so why not?

I got off at the last stop and from there I walked along the slightly uphill sidewalk to Koyasan Guesthouse Kokuu, where I would be staying for the night. I came across a stooped, grey-haired woman walking towards me. She smiled and I smiled back and she started talking to me...in Japanese. All in Japanese. Not a word in English. She happily chatted on (I had no idea what she way saying) and she asked me a question. She repeated it three or four times and made some guesses (but I still could not understand the question and what her guesses were) until she said Taiwan and I finally figured our what the question was: Where are you from?

It seems to me the elderly are more curious about foreigners than the young ones. I would have wanted to strike up a conversation with the locals especially those about my age, but I wasn't sure if a stranger talking to them would be welcome. Are the younger generation aloof? Or just shy?



Japan

Know Before You Go
Single Entry Tourist Visa for Japan
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
An Ignoramus in Japan: Vending Machines
An Ignoramus in Japan: Bathrooms and Toilets
An Ignoramus in Japan: Manhole Covers
I Spy With My Little Eye: Japan's Fashion Contradictions
I Spy With My Little Eye: On the Go in Japan

Kansai Diaries (2016)
9D/9N | Wakayama, Nara, Kyoto, Osaka
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kansai Region
Osaka: Day 0: Arrival
Osaka Accommodations: Hotel Raizan, Hotel Mikado
Wakayama: Day 1: Going to, Sleeping in, and Eating in Koyasan
Wakayama: Day 1.5: West Side of Koya Town
Wakayama: Koyasan Sidewalk Shorts (you're here!)
Wakayama: Days 1.75~2: Okunoin, Three Times
Nara: Sleep, Eat, and Explore Nara City
Nara: Day 3: Horyuji, Hokkiji, and Some Japanecdotes in Ikaruga Town
Nara: Day 3.5: Yakushiji, Toshodaiji, and Heijo Palace Site in Nara City
Nara: Day 4: Early Morning at Nara Park
Nara: Day 4.25: Naramachi Walking Tour
Nara: Day 4.5: Todaiji, Yoshiki-en, and Kofukuji in Nara Park
Kyoto Accommodations: Guesthouse Wind Villa, Shiori Yado
Kyoto: Day 5: Rainy Day in Uji City

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