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Kyoto Part 6 of 6: Tuesday

I let myself sleep in, not rising until nearly 9am. I got all of my things together quickly and without any goodbyes to be said, I wasted no time checking out of the hostel that had housed me for two nights of my young life, turned my back on its door and walked away, probably never to see it again.

My bus headed home to Tokyo was leaving at 11:20am, so I thought I should use my time. I walked immediately west of the Kyoto Station for the first time and found a quiet, dreary, open-doored restaurant. I was surprisingly satisfied by the breakfast of rice, raw egg, seaweed, sausage and miso soup for 420 yen ($3.50 USD).

I wandered a bit more before finding my way onto another highway bus, destined for Shinjuku Station in Central Tokyo. On our way out of Kyoto, I spotted a particularly beautiful graveyard, but it went by too quickly for me to grab my camera. Instead, I was left trying to remember it, large and hill crested, with stone columns left to help those still here remember those who aren’t. The grave columns were cleaned and shiny and well-maintained, as so many things are in Japan. Perhaps it is a way of fighting time, trying to forget that we forget. Sanitizing death and its memory to quell the terror death often inspires, fighting that terror with brooms and brushes.

The rest of my trip was another eight hours of war, watching Japan fight its environment.

Our bus cradled rock walls that had been cemented over, ladders remaining a final declaration of Japanese triumph over the wild. Two hours into our trip, we drove over the Ibi River with cement banks and the wide and meandering Kiso River, dumped-in and concrete filled. The Ochigawa River was dry, surely from over-damming.

There were fronts that made me believe that nature had won some battles. The town of Iida, nestled at the feet of great peaks, and scarecrows in fields, old Japanese bodies hunched over crops. We passed some older people playing croquet, protected in the forgiving arm of a mountain range, before my bus plunged into the lengthy Enasen Tunnel

There were the fruit trees of Matsukawa and the sun playing peek-a-boo over crooked teeth of green, green mountains. I stuffed my face in another book and soon the coming night was brushed back by the office lights of Shinjuku buildings, tall and straight.

I trudged, bag in hand, out of my bus and to a subway, finding my way to Jiyugaoka again. Unlocking the door of my apartment after a few days away suddenly made it feel more welcoming, kinder and gentler, like feuding friends that greet each other with warmth after having been away from each other for too long.

I vomited my bags on the floor, showered, ate, and fell asleep, exhausted and satisfied.

Jaa mata,

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