series : my spring in Japan 5

16th May 2015..

I woke up at 10.30 AM this morning. 8 hours sleep for two days seems justifiable. Olivia says, “Good Morning, sleepyhead, do you plan to sleep all day?”. I just laugh. I gather all my souls in order to make a proper goodbye to Mellisa and Olivia. Both of them leave the guesthouse today. Especially to Olivia, after i heard her story, i wish her a proper good luck. Hopefully, the life give us chance in future to cross path again.

I am still tired with long flight and late night. But, once i really up, it doesn’t take long time to get ready. But still, Jin Suk and I are the last ones left the house in the morning. I see Takeshi cleaning up when we are leaving. As an owner, he is putting a good work.

My experience with hostel/guesthouse is always good. It is safe. The only thing is if you are unlucky, you might have a snoring roommate. And, it is easy to make friends. Each day we will meet new people and meet new friends. Everyone is friendly – every time we see new faces, we always say hello. A hello then evolve to be a cool conversation. This is where i find out that i am not the only solo female traveler. There are people like me from all around the world. It make me feels … amazing.

Last night, i mentioned about Jin Suk, Melissa, and Olivia. But, actually in total I meet at least four new friends in one night. Because i stay in female dorm, all of them are females. Melissa and Olivia live in Japan for 6 months as volunteers and tourist. One of them is from Canada. She live in Japan for 2 months as volunteer and tourist.

Last one, but the most inspiring one, is from Korea. Her name is Jin Suk. She travels to Japan for a week and been in Kyoto for a few days already. She is learning Japanese since a month ago. But, her Japanese is very good. When i ask how she can do that, she mentions that Japanese and Korean language has similar tone, structure, and dialect.

The problem is she speaks limited English and i cannot speak Korean or Japanese. But, it doesn’t stop us to share stories. The uniqueness is we do not speak in proper sentence. It is always word by word in English or Japanese or even a total body language. It makes our interaction fun. There is one time that she just bought a unique umbrella. If water hits this umbrella, there will be a nice flowery pattern come up in the surface. She don’t know how to explain this in English. So, she run into the powder room, open the tap, and put the umbrella in the sink. Then, she points out the flowery pattern happily. That’s when i get what she tries to tell me.

This unique kind of understanding is a sweet base of our friendship. People say it hard to understand people, especially if they have different culture than our own. Or maybe, it is us that not able to open our mind to accept that there is a different ways of life. Open up your mind, and you will open up your life potential. It can be from a new knowledge, or simply a new friendships. Whatever it is, it certainly open a new door.

Jin Suk and I agree to have soba as lunch. If not because of Jin Suk, i may not eat soba, simply because i can not find the right restaurant. On a corner of a road, she says “Soba!”. She reads it from the restaurant’s flag. And, of course, it is in Japanese.

The restaurant is a traditional Japanese restaurant with tatami and low table. We need to remove our shoes before we enter the dining area. I take a minute to observe the restaurant. It seems that most of the people that come here is local. I may be the only foreigner at that time. Don’t worry, they have menu in English. Jin Suk then help me to order a cold original soba with green tea.

Soba itself is a Japanese traditional noodle dish. It comes with many variation, such as original soba, miso soba, shoyu soba, and many others. I order the original soba which a plate of plain home made noodle with a sauce. To eat soba properly, i need to curl it with chopsticks and dip it in the sauce. Even though i eat quite well with chopstick, I still have difficulty to curl the soba. Then, Jin Suk teach me to use the spoon to help with curling process. It works! Jin Suk gave me compliment last night that i ate well with chopstick when we ate ryori dish. I think at this moment, she regrets that compliment a bit. The dish may look simple but the taste is yummy! After accompany me during lunch, Jin Suk go to Nara to see beautiful deers. I hope you enjoy it, Jin Suk.

Japan and its culture is not an alien for me. Thank you to our National TV Provider in Indonesia, part of my childhood life was Japanese manga, cartoon, and drama. My friends and I grew up with Doraemon, Detective Conan, Ninja Hattori, and Sailor Moon. I enjoy Japanese songs from Do As Infinity, Ayumi Hamasaki, Utada Hikaru, YUI, and many more.

This may be the factors why i feel really comfortable walking alone in Japan. First destination for me is Ginkakuji Temple. But, before i reach there, i find a temple near the Imperial Palace. It is not a famous temple, but very serene and peaceful. Not like the famous temples that has several restriction area, i can go in the praying hall and see what is inside. It is a nice moment of peace.

Ginkakuji is beautiful. I cannot go in the temple but the garden that surrounding it is beautiful. Now, i am dreaming to have a Zen garden at the back of my house in the future. Some of the walking tracks inside this temple are uphill and downhill. In one of the tracks, i fall and almost sprain my ankle. I fall on my knee. Of course, i am surprised. Second after that, a guy in red t-shirt hold my right hand and lift me up. Thats another surprise. All i have in mind is saying “I am okay. I am okay.” Hear me say that repeatedly, the man let my arm go after he see me stand up well. Then i realise i forgot to say thank you. I can not catch him since my ankle is a bit numb. I need to give a moment to my ankle to recover. Whoever you are – the red t-shirt guy – thank you!

After that small incident, i continue the day by walking along Philosopher Walk towards Yasaka Shrine. Of course, there is no sakura as the Golden Week has passed couple of weeks ago. It is more like a nice spring walk with plenty of flowers blooming. In beginning of the road, i find a bear family is fishing down the river. Of course, they are not a real bears, but statues. But, still, they are very cute!

This path lies residential areas and there are some cafes a long the way.  So, when i walk, i can see some students in baseball uniform running around. In fact, one of them fall hard on the road. I get worried to hear how loud the fall sound was. But, seconds later, he gets up and just laugh with his friends. Good boy! The walk in Philosopher Walk can take up to 1.5 hours. So, if you are in the hurry to Yasaka Shrine, i recommend you to use the public bus instead.

Yasaka Shrine and its surroundings also as beautiful as Ginkakuji. In the Shrine, i can see people wearing yukata and pray. In the park, i can see the big sakura tree. Its just great! When i arrive in Yasaka Shrine, the clock shows 5.30 pm. I can not go to other temple, as they are usually close after 5 pm. So, i decide to buy some Onigiris (they are yummy and cheap!) for dinner and hang out in local coffee shop. This is where i usually write for the day, for almost everyday during my stay in Japan. And, that’s why i still have all the details of the trip to share with you all. Please don’t get bored, and see you in next post!!

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