We reached Koya San in midday.
They said it was easy to get lost in Japan, but in the last three days, it proved to be quite impossible.
I think the Japanese are the most helpful and emphatic. Which is ironic because they aren’t famous for emotions. Throughout the first half of the journey while we were on the brink of being hopelessly lost, someone always offered help. Sometimes, they point us to the right direction without using a word of english, and it’s amazing once you realise that most of the time, words aren’t the best measure for connection.
So there we were, hungry and tired. “I need to take a photograph of this crossing.”– so I paused for a bit. My sister was hungry though so she went ahead. She entrusted me to find the Inn for us. In our little ramen place, around the corner of Senjuinbashi I asked the most reliable person in the house – the old man at the counter.
“Excuse me, where can I ride a bus to.. (points to map)”
The old man stared at the map and made a few sounds. He took hold of the map and stared at it for a while longer. Then, still with the map in his hands, he held on to the table to push himself up. I felt afraid and ashamed for asking for help and mainly for bothering him but he seemed intent on helping me. He turned around, looked outside the window, pointed to the right side of the road, looked back at me and said
“Red Car… Fire Ball… Wait.”
I had no idea what that meant but I repeated it to make sure I wasn’t imagining things– he confirmed, sat down and went back to business. I was afraid. I.had.one.job. to find the inn and all I had were clues. I went back to the table where my sister was and pretended to know where we were going. I led us to the right side of the road. I told her about the oral clues but assured her that it will be alright, and that “it can’t be that far”. In truth though I was really afraid, I know her pack is 18kgs in weight and she’s been traveling for 6 days even before I arrived and being lost at this point wasn’t an option. Then, I saw it, a few steps away in a small space between two buildings — parked a Red Car. I looked around me and I was standing right in front of a Fire station and right beside it was a bus stop where a group of people were Waiting.
“Red Car… Fire Ball… Wait.”
I was relieved. So much so that I almost cried. I told her the truth after that. That in my head- we were both lost.
But I had the clues. Words that don’t really make sense in the beginning but once you get to where you’re supposed to be, start to mean everything. I think that’s just how it is. We ask questions and we get answers that don’t make sense. We are never sure when the words will start making sense but we keep on though we are afraid of not knowing.
Every time I feel impatient about where I am, I think of the old man and Red Car, Fire Ball, Wait. It reminds me to be patient about uncertainty. Right now everyone wants to be certain about everything, but if we’re always sure, then what’s the point?