A lot of amazing things happened today, and it’s hard for me to write them all down, but I’ll start off by saying the best part about my trip so far has been getting the opportunities to meet all kinds of people, and speaking with them. It’s really exciting for me to share my story and then hear someone else’s in return. It’s particularly fun when it’s with a Japanese person because I then get a chance to practice my Japanese.
Ok, so the basic story is a couple days ago I was talking with one of the Japanese staff members at my hostel and she asked if I’d be interested in participating in an event she was organizing called the Kyoto Ciathlon. I said sure (I’m in Kyoto for enough time that I can branch out a little from just sightseeing). So, I woke up today and went to the starting point for the ‘social marathon’, where there were maybe 25 -30 people gathered, and I was the only non-Japanese.
They called it a marathon, but it was really more like a meet-and-greet combined with sightseeing and trying out restaurants/bars. Basically, everyone dispersed and either walked, ran, bicycled, took the bus, whatever to wherever they wanted to go in Kyoto. People would post interesting things they came across to the event’s Facebook page, and then you could stop in at the roughly 10 or so restaurants/cafés/bars at any time and relax while meeting other participants.
It was really just an innovative way to meet people, and we all wore Ciathlon shirts so we could recognize each other and get deals at the restaurants, etc. I ran for a little bit, up to Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Temple. This time, as its name suggests, it actually is covered in gold lacquer, and is probably the most popular temple in Kyoto. It came as no surprise then that it was jam-packed with tourists, and getting a clear shot of the Golden Pavilion without someone’s head in it took some patience and manuevering.
Eventually, I made my way to one of the designated bars, ‘Samurai Bar Shishin’. And yes, it had a samurai theme with samurai outfits and swords. And yes, it was awesome.
I got a drink and chatted with the owner for about 10 minutes before a few other Ciathlon participants came in. We all sat around a small earthen flame and talked for a good hour or so.
We then left as a group to walk to the ending point of the event for the closing party. There was a plethora of food and beer, and everyone in their Ciathlon T-shirts walked around and exchanged stories.
The whole event was very well organized, and most of all fun. Also, everyone wanted to know where exactly Ohio was in the US, so I outlined it on a map they had put up. The organizers got up and gave short speeches, explaining the reason behind the event and thanking all those who participated.
It really was an amazing time, and one of the most fun days I’ve had here so far.