Les Parapluies de Kyoto

Late June/early July hits most of Japan squarely in the rainy season. By all accounts we were fairly fortunate, but it drizzled every day at least once, and at least once a day there would be a sudden flash-downpour. Honestly, with temperatures in the sun upwards of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity, the rain was often a welcome relief.

Nevertheless, we did both carry around umbrellas everywhere we went. I packed the small ultralight one I usually keep in my teaching bag and quickly found that I had one of the smaller, wimpier devices in use on the street (I figure if they want to pack and carry $200 worth of sheet music for me, then I'll consider a beefier umbrella) At my suggestion, Sebastian stopped in a 7-eleven on his way to the airport in Taipei and bought a $7 manly cane-like contraption that he wielded with a positively Chaplin-esque jauntiness. (My comment that a small collapsible umbrella might be more practical was met with "this is more masculine" disdain)

Stylistic benefits aside, Sebastian's umbrella turned into a liability fairly early on. At least once a day we backtracked just to pick the darn thing back up from wherever we left it. The conflict reached a head when he left the umbrella at the restaurant where we had Kyoto-style sushi. The following morning dawned ominously cloudy and caused us to stop and pick up a new umbrella. (I talked him into a cheaper, less macho clear umbrella for 500 yen) We went to Ninnaji Temple and had the umbrella, but by the end of Ryonaji Temple we realized that it was gone! We went to the half-way point between the two where we got water from a vending machine, but it wasn't there either. Defeated, we left the area sans umbrella.

I convinced Sebastian that we should go back to the restaurant to pick up his original umbrella that night before dinner, and sure enough, 2 minutes into the walk it started pouring harder than at any point in the trip! We huddled under my umbrella until happening upon a small, clear blue umbrella leaning up against a bank of vending machines. Sebastian figured that he had paid his umbrella-debt to the universe and took the umbrella. (Incidentally, the restaurant was closed when we got there anyway) He managed to hold onto that umbrella and was carrying it when we parted at Kyoto station.

Sebastian's comment on his ability to hold onto an umbrella? "They're one part ninja and three parts butter."