Everyone that knows me knows I'm terrible with directions. So traveling to Daishi Temple alone today was not only a challenge for me, but also a feat for all bad navigators.
School ends on the 22nd so finals began today, which meant that I had the day off. I set out for the Kawasaki Daishi Temple this morning hopeful that my lack of sense of direction would not alter my voyage too much.
I managed to successfully transfer trains, but once I arrived at Daishi station I had only planned to ask the station officers directions. I hadn't think about what I would do if they couldn't speak English. Therefore I stood nodding while the officers made hand movements and rambled in Japanese.
I thought I was successful finding the temple after ten minutes of walking in the direction the officers pointed me to, when I stumbled upon a park with a what I thought was the temple. In my prideful shining moment I asked a local woman if this was in fact Daishi temple, and she responded by telling me it was merely a miniature Chinese garden attached to the park. I had actually walked past the temple when I caught sight of the playground! When I did make it to the temple it was magnificent. I've noticed every temple has the same rituals (hand cleansing center, fortune telling station, incense, etc.) but they all have different styles. Asakusa was fast paced with many visitors, Saijoji was rustic and woodsy and Daishi was tranquil yet still modern. Daishi is located in the middle of residential living, and is centered around the Buddhist priest Kobo Daishi.
Since I had walked circles around the area and I had forgotten in which direction the train station was. While pondering my situation I noticed an older couple which looked lost as well. I pointed in the direction of the temple and asked if that was what they were looking for. They ended up helping me instead by taking me back to the train station. In my personal experiences Japanese people in general are more shy than Americans but if asked of something like directions, they are very thorough and are honestly concerned about your successful arrival.
Lesson learned today: if I can travel alone in Japan anyone can - it's all about using your resources and being smart. Nobody wants to end up like those girls on the movie Taken after all.