Japan’s True Beauty Lies in Its Soul

As soon as I settled in on the top bunk of my 10-bed hostel room 2 nights ago, I was so eager to write about how I’ve already fallen in love with Japan just 2 hours into the trip. From the moment I stepped out of the plane, to the time I bought my Kansai Pass, up until the time I checked in, everything just fell into place despite a significant language barrier. I’ve just been on a 4-hour flight, a 1 and a half-hour train ride and a 20-minute bus ride to get to this comfortable bed so I just crashed and I wasn’t able to write about it which turned out to be a blessing.

I had to be at the hostel before midnight and despite the constant fear of getting lost considering I only had a 20-minute leeway, I made it safe and sound thanks to the help of not just one or two Japanese people but more than 5 of them. They may not understand a single word I said but they were really so eager to help that they would be willing to go out of their way just to lead me to the right direction. Though we don’t understand each other at all, I didn’t really have a hard time finding my way. I remember asking a policeman which way it is to the bus stop and he would say “Go straight then right” while pointing to his left, “and then right” this time, gesturing to make me go right. But it didn’t confuse me at all and true enough I found the bus stop that would ultimately take me a few steps away from my hostel.

Kyoto Palace Bike

Bike outside the Kyoto Imperial Palace

The next day, I rented a bike and went around Kyoto from 9 in the morning till about 7:30 at night. Easily the longest day I’ve ever had on 2 wheels. I started off wandering around the Gion area of Kyoto, close to my hostel. It was nothing short of amazing, it’s like someone from Japan’s past just pressed the pause button during that period in history. I cruised through the old town and made turns in the smallest alleys and the next one would still outdo the previous one.

Armed with a map, no phone, and a hefty dose of excitement, I visited so many different temples. There’s just no way I could compare one to the other because every single one of them just fascinates me. From Nanzenji to Kinkakuji(Golden Pavilion), I was wide-eyed every time I stepped into any of these structures and by the end of the day, I just wanted to visit each one of the temples although it wouldn’t be possible.

At loss for words, fascinated and awe-struck all the same time. All I can do is just describe how I felt during the entire experience since it would be a lot easier than trying to describe all these amazing structures. I couldn’t find the words that would do these temples justice, not even pictures. From the moment I stepped inside the gates of my first temple, I literally thought I was still dreaming. It’s so beautiful that one would think these are stuff you would only see in the movies. It’s just too good to be true but it actually is and just like the movies, it’s almost like fiction but it’s for real.

Golden Pavilion Kyoto

Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion

The pine tress, the maple trees and the cherry blossom trees don’t even beg for attention but I know those temples wouldn’t look the same if they stood on bare concrete right next to a paid parking lot. It’s these trees that perfectly complement these timeless structures, giving color to what would be just old planks of age-pigmented woods if it stood there alone. Simply beautiful!

Japanese People

Japan’s Soul

But there’s one thing that transcends all the beauty of these sights, the Japanese themselves. See the thing about Japanese people is that they put their hearts into everything they do. Whether it’s cooking, mopping the floor, directing traffic or helping lost travellers, they do everything with pride, passion and sincerity. That’s just how they are.

All the mintly preserved history, the modern technology and the colorful scenery, they’re all just superficial aesthetics – the Skin. Or maybe somewhat like nail arts and face masks, they’re accessories. But Japan’s true timeless beauty lies in its Soul, the Soul that is its PEOPLE.

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