The day is flooded with rain and clouds. Yet it is still warm outside. Cyclists in simple ponchos and intensely colored waterproofs whiz past me. I buy the largest transparent umbrella available and start out. The Kyoto subway system is organized by color and number codes. Orientation is easy. There is still more than half a mile left to walk from the station. My shoes get soaking wet. “Not a great idea, this outing today”, I think and try to literally and metaphorically shield off the rain, outwards and inwards. I cross a bridge, look to the right, and see a rice field, in the middle of the city. Behind it, there are vegetable gardens. One step further, and there is a collection of umbrellas. My view is opening up to today’s fullness. There is water everywhere, reflections, the sounds on top of my umbrella, blossoms being washed down from shrubs. Water on plants. Intense colors. A sea of drops.
I arrive at the Myoman-ji temple, and my wet pair of shoes is the only one at the entrance. The monk hands me a pair of slippers. The rooms seem moderately busy as usual. There are Tatami mats on the floor, the walls are made of wood and paper. The rain outside makes me want to stay. In one of the rooms, visitors are invited to sit down on meditation cushions. Photographs show the garden at every season. The view from the wooden patio is soothingly beautiful. There is nothing accidental in this garden, the magic seems right on the spot and in this moment: a blossom has fallen down on the rocks, the water is slowly trickling into the ground of the perfectly kempt rock garden.
A monk is hanging white paper balloons in a long corridor. After a friendly chat with more gestures than words, he invites me into the huge shrine room. Forms, symbols, patterns, fabrics, carvings, and gold in abundance. I am sitting on my stool, discovering more and more. The monk is rustling through his paper balloons.
Outside again, under my huge umbrella, I enjoy being alone and getting used to the rain. The nearest station “Kino” has a small train departing from the gray drizzle. The driver gets up at every station, turns around and sends each paying customer off with a small bow. I haven’t figured out how to pay yet. At the final stop, there is a table with laminated instructions in English: We check our own travel distance and price to pay in Yen. We pay up when our journey is at its end. My fear of traveling without a ticket was completely unfounded. Two changes are still ahead of me: five minutes in the regional train with its dark red lining, then two stations on the subway. I pay for each section separately.