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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Stories from Japan- Arashiyama's Bamboo Forest

While studying in Japan I made it my goal to experience as much of Japan as possible. Since the study abroad program was stationed in Kyoto it was pretty easy to explore all of Kyoto. One of the areas I explored and my favorite is Arashiyama. On this particular day that I was in Arashiyama a group of us were trying to go to Monkey Mountain where we could feed the monkeys but it closed early. So we decided to walk around the Arashiyama area to figure something else out.

A path in bamboo forest.
This is when we spotted the bamboo forest. We all decided to go in and explore. It was very magical to go through the bamboo forest. We were all surrounded by tall bamboo that seemed to reach the sky. The bamboo were surrounding us, leading the way through the forest. The paths made the forest seem like a maze. Walking through the forest, on the path, one of the things we encountered was a grave site. We found it odd to have a grave site in such a place, but at the same time it felt right. What was really weird about the grave site was the fact of there being a balloon flower in front of it. Another feature that caught our attention was a dead end we came across on the path. Below the dead end was what looked to be like train tracks. We decided to continue on in our venture through bamboo forest to see what else we would find.

The out of place balloon.
Before I get to the main part of the story, let me explain some context that'll make the story funnier. At the start of the study abroad program we all got to know one another pretty well. One of the things I told people was that I was scared of bees/wasps. Throughout the trip they would play jokes on me, saying a bee would be behind. They would get a kick out of my reactions which were either running away screaming or hugging onto other people (like that would help). I'm so scared of bees that once I won a track and field meet race because I realized a bee was behind me, and I ran as fast as I could when the gun went off to start the race.

So now that you know this bit of information let's get back to the story.

We kept walking through the bamboo forest until we reached what we thought to be the end of the path. The path came to an end with a big lake greeting us. It was very pretty. We weren't going to go any further but we heard a loud noise. It made most of us nervous but one of us out of the small group we had out that day wanted to go follow the noise. She said, "It sounds like a boar. Let's go find it!" All of us were telling her not to go but she didn't listen. Feeling a bit of responsibility for her, we all followed her as we walked alongside the lake.
The lake we found at the end of a path in bamboo forest.
I don't know what brought me to look down but hidden in the grass by the lake was a sign. The sign was in Japanese which at the time my Japanese was at a beginner level. Even though I couldn't understand what it was saying, it was accompanied by a picture that anybody would understand. I frozen up. "What is it?" I asked. I knew well what it was but I guessing I was just looking for confirmation. I point at the sign so the others would know what I was asking about. They all looked at the sign and then looked back up in terror. "Run!!!" someone yelled. Yep! That's right! The sign was warning people that this place was the home of a swarm of  hornets. We sprinted out of the area as fast as we could. We stopped running once we reached the middle of the bamboo forest, or at least what we felt was the middle. After gasping for air we all started to laugh and joke about it.

To this day we joke about it. If we hear anybody talk about bamboo forest we always tell this story. Even though this happened I still go to bamboo forest, I'm just more careful.
The group I was with.

Thank you for reading my story. Hope you all liked it. I still recommend anybody visiting the Kyoto area to check out Arashiyama the area and the bamboo forest. It's very pretty. I wrote another story on my blog that you can read here if you haven't read it already.

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