I celebrated Thanksgivng in typical expatriate style--three days too early at an Indian restaurant just across the street from the famous pleasure quarters of Kyoto, home of the elusive Geisha of Gion, with one American I met last time I was in Japan, her friend, Greg, and his friend Mitsu. We actually met them by chance, meandering the old stone roads that lead up to Kiyomizudera, the Temple of Pure Water. We were literally packed like sardines on the narrow street, inching our way past omiage (Japanese souvenier) shops and matcha (Japanese green tea) ice cream stalls, admiring the famous and infamously expensive Kyoto pottery shop windows lining the steep climb to the temple mount when Greg tapped Lindsey on the shoulder and said "Hey...I think I know you."
Lindz and I with our new Kimono clad friends, Kyoto.
Greg is actually Lindsey's friend's boyfriend (’s next door neighbor’s couzin’s dog...), whom she never met before. He recognized because he had seen her on campus back in the states. Studying at Kansai Gadai he met Mitsu, and since Gaidai is our Alma Mater, we had an instant bonding exeperience. Along with what seemed like every other person in Honshu, some in traditional silk kimonos, we enjoyed the blazing tapestry of red, orange and yellow leaves that set the hidden temple gardens of the ancient capital on fire every fall.
Shades of Fall in Kyoto.
For all you amateur leaf-lookers out there: If you walk with your head back, the delicately woven lace of Japanese maples seems more the like stained glass windows of a cathedral. Drops of sunlight spill over and thru the leaves, gathering in golden puddles on the mossy garden floor. Ofcourse doing so exponentially increases your chances of tripping over little Jizosama statues, or colliding head on with nisemono Maikosan (imposter apprentice geishas...many tourists, Japanese and Gaijin (foreigners) alike, dress up in full Geisha regalia to have their pictures taken, but that only adds to the experience!
If you come to Japan, you won't leave without tripping over a statue of Jizo, the protector of travelers and children.
Greg had tried to get his girlfriend to come join us for dinner, but since she couldn't he had to go. Mitsu decided to hang out with us for the rest of the night, which is when I suggested we go for Indian food! First he took us to Koudaiji, where the amazing fall foilage was being illuminated. He stood in lone with us for atleast an hour, insisting that we had to see it. It was definately worth the wait! We climbed up a stone stair pathway thru a lit bamboo forest up to the temple gardens...It was surreal. I can't explain it. Its something you have to experience for yourself, as so many things here are.
Mitsu had never eaten Indian food, so we tried to warn him when the waiter asked if he wanted his curry hot. Lindz had learned her lesson the last time she, Jessica and I had come nearly 2 years earlier, and opted for the medium. Since I insisted oh the super hot, he must have thought it could't be that bad. When he took the first bite he literally busted out in sweat. Besides the fact that his was literally sweating from the heat, he bravely cleaned his plate and vowed to come again...Only to try the medium instead!
Say 'Hi' Mitsu!
I can't say I wouldn't mind a little pumpkin pie, or the laughter and fighting customary among friends and family (well, mine at least) this time a year. But, Japan, as always, continues to amaze me. The only thing that would make it better is if all of you were here to experience it with me!
So thanks to all of you! For one reason or another, God has brought you into my life, and I am thankful for all of you!
Lindsey: I cant believe we're back in Japan! Its amazing how we had to travel to the other side of the earth to meet each other, but I'm so happified that we did :) Japan wouldnt have been the same with out you desho! Not to mention our little reunion in Las Vegas! You're my world wide partner in crime! And even though your in Osaka and I'm mad jealous and landlocked in the mountains of Gifu, I know we have alot of adventures ahead of us!
Mitsu: I cant believe we just happened to meet you and Greg in Kyoto! Guzen de ne! I'm so happy we did though! For real! I had so much fun with you guys! You were so brave with the indian food! :) I was very impressed! Koudaiji was amazing too! Thanks for waiting in line with us to see a bunch of pretty leaves...I dont think i know any other guy that would do that! Nabe was oishikatta yo! Thanks for letting us invade your space and for having the best ever taste in music!!! Your English is better than mine, you're super cool, and your daughter :) is mecha kawaii! Hehehe :) Mata asobou ne!!