I washed my hands at this temple…..
I think it was in Kakegawa (correct me if I am wrong, please…it was 7 years ago)
I took this trip in January of 2002. M and I had known each other…. perhaps about 3 days? In the 8 weeks that I had taught at Alpha Language School, I bonded with one particular class. They turned into my parents…. and I think of them so fondly even now.
They invited me (us) on a bus trip to a castle and a temple. Since I had done nothing in Japan at that point (except drink), this was pretty exciting. We were picked up at about 7 am. Shoved into a teeny car. Driven to some random parking lot, we exited and then lined up for a bus. And met the rest of the class who were coming with us.
It was a pretty luxurious bus. And to my surprise, all of the old ladies on it (pretty much it was M and 50 older women) simutaneously cracked open a beer. I kid you not. We were then offered one…. too early for us both.
So while the bus drank its face off, M and I giggled away and cemented our friendship in the ridiculousness of this journey. The only other man on the bus adventure cast glances back at him longingly… he was trapped in beer and morning pastry hell. Poor guy…
The day was spent on and off that bus.
Interlude: The most ridiculously gourmet meal I had ever had in my life (at that point) as just a random lunch time thing for the whole bus. On a private golf course that was used primarily by sumo wrestlers for a vacation hot spot or something like that. It was fancy. Maybe it was soccer pros that vacationed there…. regardless, it was fancy, delicious and well, super fancy. Oh, and awkward. Really really awkward.
Please, try to imagine 2 fluent english speakers plus 7 non-english speakers. PLUS alcohol. Plus overwhelming Japanese culture. Plus hand gestures.
I was 25. M was 26. They were the same age as our parents. And had been drinking. Awkward!
Regardless of the whole awkwardness thing, it still was the most amazing thing I had ever done. We were all so unsure of each other it made it ok. I remember walking onto the grounds of the temple and just being astounded. I literally didn’t know how to react to what I was seeing. It was the complete opposite of the Canadian West Coast. Or of any coast at all.
It was the best weekend of my early twenties….