Sunday, January 15, 2006

Accomplishment of Love Match

So if Hiroshima was the City of Peace then I dub Kyoto the City of Love.

Kyoto is full of hundreds of stunning shrines and temples, each one preying on a fundamental human desire by selling some charm or prayer block promising longevity, wisdom, money, success, good traffic (??) or, of course, love...all for a small price. Clearly there are a lot of people who want a lot of things from life and many seem think that spending $0.50 in Japan will get them whatever it is they are seeking.

So the love started at the Golden Pavillion where an old man outside a temple approached me with a fistfull of candles. Seeing that the candles were only $0.50 I bought one and watched as his face lit up and he excitedly pointed to the Japanese characters on it. Of course I did not understand what they meant, so he led me the table where he kept the various candles - for "Good employement", "To pass examinations", for "Happy family" - and showed me that I had selected "Accomplishment of love match". I inquired about a "What the hell should I do with my life?" candle (which surprisingly they do not sell) and even tried to trade it for the "Safe Travels" candle, but he refused to switch. So I lit the candle at the temple and continued on to the Imperial Palace.

Freeman, a high school friend, joined me for my second day in Kyoto. The first temple we visited was Kiyomizu-dera, a series of pagodas, temple and shrines on a hill overlooking the city. After wandering around in the crazy rain we arrived at the "Love Stone" where people try to ensure success in love by walking a fair distance between a pair of stones with their eyes closed. It is said that if you miss walking into the stone that your desire for love will not be fulfilled, but that if you hit the rock that your wish for love will come true shortly. I am not sure how walking with your eyes closed, hoping to walk into or trip over a large rock, will bring me love, but good news - Freeman and I both managed to collide with the rock.

And the love continued at the foot of the hills where there were Japanese drinking water that spilled over a temple into three streams. Understanding only that the water was clearly sacred and held therapeutic values, we decided to drink it (happy that the Japanese have steralization machines for the communal cups). As Freeman was about to dip his cup into one of the three streams, a Japanese woman told me that each of the streams is supposed to bring something different - wisdom, longevity or....yes, you know So in keeping with the love-fest in Kyoto, I yelled at Freeman to drink from the love stream and did the same myself.

Now, I would like to be able to tell you that all the lovefying in Kyoto led me to immediately achieve my "accomplishment of love match" in Kyoto, but sadly that did not happen. There was a moment of fear at the Imperial Palace when, immediately after lighting the "Accomplishment of love match" candle, a young Austrian girl started talking to me. I thought that perhaps the gods mistakenly thought that a woman was my "love match" or that the man had accidentally covered the word "lesbian" on "Accomplishment of lesbian love match", but fortunately I knew that she was NOT my love match.

So HE'S still out there somewhere, and I know this because I paid $0.50 to burn a candle, I walked between two rocks with my eyes shut and drank some dirty water...all for love.


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