I spent the bulk of the day meandering peacefully down the Path of Philosophy. It had been deserted for the most part. Occasionally another tourist couple would pass by, or an older Japanese woman taking her tiny dog for a walk, but for the most part I had the Path to myself. The typhoon that had hit the day before kept most people busy as they rushed to clean up the water damage caused by flooding in Kyoto. I did my part earlier in the day, helping an elderly woman sweep the water out of her little sweet shop near the entrance to Nanzen-ji. Now I was just wandering, and thinking.
As the afternoon wore on things started to get a tiny bit busier, but the crowds were still at a fraction of what would usually be expected. I stopped off at Ginkaku-ji at the end of the Path just before it closed. After snapping a few photos I helped a young Italian couple find their way back to the subway. They invited me to dinner, but I declined. My wandering hadn’t finished yet. After making my way down to the river, I pulled out my map to see if anything of interest was close to me. The only thing that stuck out to me was labeled Shimogamo-jinja, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in the city.
The light was fading as I walked through the forest leading to the shrine. It was such a pleasant experience to find such nature in the heart of the city. This is something that I have found sorely missing in many Korean cities. The sun dappled through the broad, green leaves of late summer, casting pools of light along the ground. Golden rays embraced me as I stepped out of the dark forest and under the vermillion torii gate guarding the entrance to the shrine. I took the time to set up my tripod and snap a few shots.
The light was perfect, but my mind was elsewhere. Though my body had stopped, my mind continued to wander. Everything and nothing was passing through my head at once. I saw without seeing. My feet moved without knowing where they were going. Until suddenly I stopped. A pool of golden light surrounded me like a warm halo. The soft bubbling of the stream next to me snapped my mind to the moment at hand. I set up my camera for one last shot inside the shrine.
Two smiling girls were leaving just as I was. I turned to look for any other angles that caught my eye, but was resigned that today was a good day for wandering, but not much of one for shooting. At this point my stomach was paining for dinner, but my mind wanted to make one more stop on the way back to my apartment. I shrugged, and decided it was best to just get on my way. The girls had finished unlocking their bikes, and were just setting off. They rode in to the sunset. My first day in Kyoto was drawing to a close, and I was loving every second of it.