People think that we exaggerate when we compare our travels to an Anime Style Adventure in Japan. One of our Nakama visited Kyoto here’s his story – a story that you’d never hear, even from a Japanese local…but maybe in an anime…
STEP 1 – GET A BIKE! – Or miss covering a lot of ground and catching the sights!
After bartering for the best bike in the bicycle shop, Zia made his way towards the highest temple in Nara, Todai Ji.
Riding his cute Mamachari (aka Mum’s Bike – basket and all) up to the peak, he took in the sights and took in some photos.
But began to wonder, ‘What’s beyond the temple?’
Leaving the bike behind, he began to climb the mountainous terrain beyond the temple, where there were no tourists whatsoever!
After 10 minutes of walking through the thick forest, he saw a Fox Shrine. Zia being familiar in meditation and Chi/Ki sensed a weird aura in the area… could it be “Saki?” – the famous “Killing intent” which Anime often talk of?
He quickly turned about-face, out of the forest and full speed down the mountain, past all of the tourists who were still struggling their way back down. His Anime style Adventure had just begun…
The next day, he left Nara and headed to Kyoto! More sites to see to visit, a temple with ‘cool orange gates’ was calling… Fushimi Inari Taisha! (About the shrine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fushimi_Inari-taisha)
As he arrived at Inari Taisha, a big revelation occurred… this was dedicated to that threatening Fox Shrine that he saw yesterday in Nara!
Maybe that scary aura was due to walking into fox spirit’s territory, uninvited. He was in the dog house now… or the fox house, his Anime Style Adventure was taking an interesting turn.
STEP 2 – APOLOGISE WITH A CANDLE! – Or be plagued by angry Japanese Spirits!
The next logical thing for Zia to do was, of course, say he’s sorry!
Japanese spirits are pleased by offerings, in Japan, you light candles at their shrines to pay homage!
In an Anime Style Adventure sort of way, Zia decided to light them ALL! … yes, all the shrines on the mountain.
He bought a big bag of candles, a lighter, and set off on his own mini-pilgrimage within the Inari Taisha.
Every corner of the mountain is riddled with Shrines. Deep winding mountain roads scatter with brightly painted MON gates, it looked like a scene out of a samurai movie.
Zia went from shrine to shrine, in his sandals, lighting candles at record speed, as elderly Japanese people and others who had travelled from other parts of Japan, watched him run past.
“Ehhh yaru jyanai…?” – “He’s pretty good…” they commented, unbeknownst to Zia, this was a challenge that some athletic people took up in Japan, running up the mountain to make record time… but he was actually seeking forgiveness!
STEP 3 – EXPECTATION – “I’m exploring this forest!”
REALITY – “I’m lost in this forest…”
Finally, reaching the last shrine. He felt content. But also curious…
“What’s beyond this I wonder 😀 ”, as the tourists turned back, he kept walking up the mountain, through a fading road lush with greenery and a lesser inclined angle.
He reached the top and found another gate, but much bigger, with two Foxes on either side, standing like sentry guards – this gate was as big as the one in London’s China Town…
His heart fluttered, ‘A gate to another dimension!?’, now Zia was truly feeling he was in an Anime in his own Anime Style Adventure. As he looked through and over the other side of the gate he saw steps leading downwards… he thought “Meh … what the hell, let’s just go down” and proceeded.
A quarter of the way down, he saw the steps were gradually breaking and overgrown with foliage. So he had to jump quite a distance between steps, like a scene out of Final Fantasy.
After 10 minutes of a downward decline… in flip flops, there was a small, countryside style Japanese house, sitting at the bottom.
He thought it was abandoned and vacant.
He realised that he couldn’t remember his way back and reached for his pocket, which contained his mobile phone. But wasn’t it wasn’t there.
Before leaving for Inari Taisha that morning, he decided that he be in the moment, rather than checking his mobile every 5 minutes to snap touristy photos.
Slightly regretting his morning move, he suddenly heard the voice of an old woman “Nani yatten no?… doko kara kitta no?”
“What’re you doing there, where’d you come from?” Zia startled turned to reply to an old lady standing outside the supposedly abandoned house.
He replied “Un, ue kara kita!” 😀 translated “I came from above!” 😀 Or… this could be understood as “I came from heaven” :D.
Her facial expression changed – ‘This young man might be a fox spirit?’
As not many foreigners speak Japanese and certainly don’t diverge from the mountain pathway, in flip flops with no mobile phone.
At the same moment, Zia thought to himself, ‘Why would there be an old lady, in the middle of nowhere, at the bottom of a mountain, in an old abandoned-looking house – ‘She’s a Fox spirit for sure! This is some Anime Style Adventure I’m having!’
*Kitsune fox spirits are notorious for shapeshifting into the forms of human beings
STEP 4 – FINDING SECRET SHRINES – Places only Locals… or Spirits know!
Zia was now irritated! Who was this old lady who appeared from nowhere who bombarded him with questions!?
He held up his candle stash and tried to explain that we lighting candles for the shrines. Her attitude changed!
“Ah so kai? Nara, mo hitsutotsu aru no yo” – “Oh is that so? Well then, there’s one more left”, she revealed to our weary traveller.
She led him around to the foot of the mountain, where there was a door… yes, a door in the mountain. She opened it, beyond, was a cave with a waterfall.
He walked inside with wide eyes, inside there were 3 remaining Fox Shrines, which he would have never found. He lit all 3, bowed, gave respects. But Zia then noticed that there were ‘Baby-like’ statues beside the Foxes… so he lit those too!
Now, time to get out of here! He asked the old lady where the station was from there.
“Ara ma… achi no masugu, masugu, masugu no yo” translated “Oh dear, it’s all the way straight straight straight that way” pointing to a direction in the forest.
So he began walking in that direction “Arigato obachan!” he thanked graciously as he set off through the forest again.
It was now 10 pm, the sun had set already, it was pitch black.
Yet, it was so calm, peaceful, serene. Perhaps because he had lit candles at all of the fox shrines and had gained the Fox spirits favour. They now stood beside him in protection!
Halfway down the mountain, he stopped to look around as best he could. But, realised that there was another route going off into the distance, lined with the ‘baby’ statues from earlier… he decided to follow that route.
STEP 5 – WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK ANOTHER STRANGER!
A ROAD! Zia emerged from the forest to a mountain road. With some luck, a car approached! He rose his arm and thumbed for a hitchhike, but the car sped up and drove past him!
Well… a foreigner, emerging from a forest, at 11 pm, on pitch black on the roadside, in flip flops who’s to blame them.
He continued walking down the roadside until he encountered a small farm. They were playing music, Enka music (Japanese Classic Songs). Enka happens to be Zia’s favourite genre of Japanese music, it’s unpopular with the younger generations of Japan, but loved by the elders!
He went to investigate and found an old man playing Enka style music from his old radio.
“Domo! Ore mo enka daisuki desu! :D”, “Hi! I love Enka too!” Zia spoke to him excitedly,
The old man froze. Wouldn’t move, wouldn’t speak.
‘Hmm, strange old man’ Zia thought to himself as he walked off…
But in hindsight, the old man must have freaked out! A foreigner, speaking Japanese, at 11 pm-ish, in flip flops, randomly walking on the road… and LOVES ENKA?! ‘He’s a Fox Spirit!’.
He continued down the mountain road, which wound down for a long while and bumped into another 2 Japanese people who were also lost.
Fortunately, they had a GPS, so Zia asked how they had they had gotten there.
They had taken the wrong route and had gotten lost! Curious about Zia’s journey, they inquired to his arrival at their point. He tried to explain that he had climbed down the mountain, but they didn’t understand, either a language barrier or a logic barrier – because nobody just climbs down a mountain!
They advised him a route to get back and Zia began to follow it.
But before long, in Anime Adventure style…the ambient easing sound of a waterfall permeated from the forest, and called to our adventurous traveller once again… so he went back in – lol.
STEP 6 – IF THE SITUATION GETS TEDIOUS, JUST RUN!
Walking back into the forest, declining steps appearing before him. He quickly stepped down them to the mystical sound of the water crashing against rocks. He discovered a cave with a shrine inside of it.
As he approached he felt ‘SAKI’, the previous scary aura that he felt before, very unfriendly! So he carefully, calmly returned back up the stairs, as if moving away from a snarling dog about to attack – careful not to make any sudden movements!
Back on the path, walking down the mountain road, things took a turn for the worst. A snap of leather, a flip flop broke! – ‘Great!’ His feet already hurt but figured walking bare footed would be more effective. At that point, he knew he was quite lost!
On the positive side, there were more cars appearing. He tried to wave them for help, but not a single vehicle stopped.
So, the last option was to run. Running like Forrest Gump on a Kyoto mountain road. He briskly jogged through the winding mountain road and caught up to the last two Japanese people who had the GPS.
Zia ran up behind them and called out, “Domo!” They s**t themselves!
A foreigner, running up behind them, barefooted, on a mountain road, 11.30 pm.
Eventually, he was able to make it back to a town, where he caught a train to his hotel.
It was around 12.40 am.
The day’s episode had come to a season finally. Until the next chapter.