The heavy rains and wind continued to pound Kyoto throughout the night. Several times I woke to peer out the window at the downpour, and a sinking feeling in my stomach brought to mind thoughts of another shooting day ruined by the deluge. By the time I awoke the next morning the rain was trickling to a stop, though the weather reports called for it to continue on in to the afternoon. The damage was apparently extensive, and parts of Kyoto prefecture were being evacuated due to flooding. It was the second inauspicious start in as many days.
After bunking down in a Starbucks to sip on a coffee and watch the engorged river flow by, I decided that the rains had stopped for good, and made my way to the northern part of Higashiyama. Clean up was already well underway. Knowing that there were several water features at Nanzen-ji, I decided that should be my first stop. On the road leading up to the temple water had flooded from the canal and into several tourist shops along the way. Yet, because of the extensive damage the storm caused, there was only one clean up crew available to help the local shop owners. They were doing their best to help everyone, but the last shop before the temple was run by a little old lady, who by the creases and lines across her face, must have been at least eighty years old. For her, it was a losing fight as she struggled by herself to push the water out with a broom. She would never be able to finish it by herself, and the clean up crew was hours away from getting to her.
Putting down my camera bag on her counter, I made the hand motion of sweeping, and held out my hand for a broom. She looked at me incredulously. After many questions in Japanese and shaking of her head she finally produced a second broom from her back room and handed it to me. After forty minutes or so, we had managed to sweep most of the several centimeters of water out on to the street. By now, the shopkeeper was smiling from ear to ear and jabbering away in Japanese to me (none of which I understood).
When we had finished I went to collect my bag, but was stopped in my tracks by a strong grip on my arm that defied her old age. She motioned for me to wait, and brought out a pot of tea. We sipped silently together, only breaking to smile, laugh, or attempt some sort of mixed English/Japanese pleasantries which got us no where. With my tea finished I was ready to head on to shoot, when she swiftly filled a bag with various sweets from her shop, and handed it over to me with the brightest of smiles.
I couldn’t help but to smile the rest of the day too. Nanzen-ji waited for me steadfastly, as it has for centuries. No wind or rain could change that century old brickwork of the aqueduct, and nothing could dampen my mood. Not even my increasingly soggy socks.