Renae, Simon, and I just returned to Shizuoka from Kyoto, where we spent about four days. And in those four days, we probably experienced more random acts of kindness than we’ve experienced in the last four months. A few examples:
- When we arrived in Kyoto, we headed straight for our hotel, a small ryokan, or traditional Japanese lodging. Unfortunately, the map we had didn’t detail all of the city’s side streets (of which there are many). Suffice to say, we quickly got lost and began getting increasingly frustrated. We eventually asked for directions from a young couple out for a stroll with their own child, and they proceeded to spend the next 15 – 20 minutes helping us find our way. They walked us to a police box, found the ryokan’s location — which, as it turned out, was basically right around the corner — and insisted on walking us right to the front door.
- As we were touring some of the city’s shrines, we got caught in a sudden rainstorm. While we were huddled at a bus stop, a random woman came running out of her restaurant, which was about half a block away, handed us an umbrella, and without a word, went back to her restaurant.
- Simon did incredibly well, given the circumstances, but he had his limits — and the return of teething didn’t help matters. Thankfully, the citizens of Kyoto, as a whole, seemed quite prepared to help out with his outbursts. We had numerous people, mostly older grandmother types, giving him little presents and charms in stores and on the bus, making funny faces, offering up their seats, and even giving him little crackers. Which may seem like little things… until you have a screaming one-year-old on your hands.
As I’ve said earlier, Renae and I have tried hard not to romanticize Japan, and yet, when we experience gracious actions like these, and many others, what else can we do?