Kyoto Night Watch

Part of the fun and adventure of being in Japan is getting lost, both spatially and temporally. With kanji characters and a foreign language best described as the Star Wars-ian Force (**) mysticism, I’m truly a stranger in a strange land.

(**) This is because my brother has a power I don’t understand and could never have.  He speaks Japaneses… although, he’d say he can read decently classical Japanese and downplays his fluency. But I’ll take a flowery formality of a bygone age with supposed minimal comprehension over my deer in the headlights, ugly Americanism any day. Miss ya, bro.

As part of getting lost in translation (Good Gravy, Sofia Coppola! I’m gonna keep making that reference!), the jetlag time zone skip means you’re never really in time, you’re just awake or in a temporary unconscious state. I think maybe I slept four hours last night. It’s now almost 4 AM and I’ve been up for a couple of hours. I showered early before they closed the public baths/shower facilities the capsule hotel runs for cleaning. And though exhausted, it feels like, I don’t know, late morning/early afternoon to me? My usual practice of being up with the sun and down with the moon is failing me and maybe that’s part and parcel of the weird, odd, “foreign” adventure I find myself in.

On top of that, there’s that weird “lost in the weeds” of navigation. I never have had a good sense of direction — I feel like in some ways I was destined to be rechristened “Wrong Way Kevin” for invariably going the 180 degrees in the exact wrong direction in trying to get somewhere. You’d think then I should just always do the opposite of what my mind and body tell me is the direction but if I know that I should be doing the opposite doesn’t my internal compass correct and by knowingly doing the opposite I would in actuality wind up going the wrong way anyway. Ah, the irrational rationality of the bugs in the machine that is humanity.

I very often have led us down a dead end or miscalculated on transport options to get from point A to point B (what, you DIDN’T want to see Point Q en route to B? Nonsense!). It can be frustrating amongst the fun, particularly for a guy like me who’s such a control freak, anal retentive planner. So while there’s great success and satisfaction in getting UN-lost, there’s a lot of hair pulling and hand-wringing in the lostness.

I know my Mom is one of the devoted dozen readers of this blog and thus this’ll make for an awkward breakfast conversation later today, but I feel like I’m letting her down when we get lost and I’m not sure it’s “fun” all the time. I’m actually not a great travel companion though Mom keeps putting up with me and for that I appreciate it. Still, I’m feeling a little guilty.

The subway eventually stops running here in Japan.  And when that time comes, those folks out and about be it at a Karoake Bar or visiting friends or whatever it is people do after 2 AM in any parts of the world, they have a few options.  They could try and grab a capsule cabin in a hotel or the cheaper option is to just wander into a 24-hour lobby and, well, pass the time… as these two girls have opted this late evening/early morning.

So while I’ve gotten Mom lost and put her up in a capsule bunk, at least I got her a place to sleep and I didn’t make her slump over in a Samurai Lounge for the night… albeit she can’t sleep either and we’re both sitting here passing the time until breakfast.  So maybe I AM making her while away the hours slumped in a partially dead space that seems to favor “The Girl From Ipanema” as a soundtrack to our lives.

It’s a weird, odd trip… but forget it, Kevin… it’s Japan-town.  Or more accurately it’s Japan.