Travel Anecdote: Small Town Kindness in Asago, Japan

My hotel was located in the middle of nowhere. I had to walk along unlighted streets under a moonless sky for half an hour. With the wind howling and all the rustlings at the background, it was very easy to scare yourself over nothing. I almost peed myself. Not out of fear though, I’ve been holding it for hours.

I found comfort in a local pub, with three old men and a very kind lady at the bar. I ordered a beer (because you don’t just pee and go) and funny conversations of unintelligible words, hand gestures, facial expressions and illustrations (yes, on paper!) ensued. They learned that I’m going to Takeda Castle Ruins early the next day for the sea of clouds and were almost gleeful to inform me that according to the news, there is “very very very little chance” (yes, they said “very” thrice) for the sea of clouds to show up. It’s funny that they speak almost no English but managed to come up with “very very very little chance” to dash my hopes. Oh well, at least there was some chance. I kept my fingers crossed.

When I said my goodbye, the kind lady jumped to her feet, grabbed her bag, took my hand and motioned that she’ll take me to my hotel. It was incredible! This small act of kindness made the whole trip worthwhile; the sea of clouds, if it does show up, would be a nice bonus but no longer paramount.

Oh, I ended up saying no to the kind lady because of my ridiculous aversion to inconveniencing others, more so strangers. I had to show her my phone’s google maps and convince her that it’ll be easy for me to figure out the way. Turned out she was right. It was a loooong walk in the dark and I can’t chide myself enough.

As predicted, there was no sea of clouds the next day. The view’s still amazing though. Below are some photos I took from Takeda, Hyogo. The castle ruins date back to 15th century but the foundation stones are still in remarkably good shape. I climbed two mountains to take these shots and I’m pretty proud of myself for doing so.

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