There is a Fire on the First Floor

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. Suddenly a bolt of lightening rang out.

The castle is under restoration and most of it is covered by a huge scaffolding/outer building, but as we approached the gates and moat were still very impressive. We wind our way through the outer walls and made it to the main castle where we could take an elevator up to see the roof of the castle and watch them work on the restoration. The line for going up was quite long, but we were here to see the castle and it is a site that won’t be available one the restoration is complete. We waited in line for about an hr and finally got in a regular sized elevator with 10 of our closest friends to ride up the 9 floors. We got out and could see the platform around the roof and we were eye level with the top of the castle.

We could also see out the windows that there was quite the storm happening. We went down the one flight of stairs to the 8th floor and we could see more of the castle from here and more of the storm. This was the landing where we could wait to go down in a much shorter line.

Then there was a bolt of lightening and a large clap of thunder. Everyone in the room sort of held there breath, but things seemed fine, until the fire alarm went off a couple seconds later. There was a Japanese announcement followed by an English announcement in a very calm British recorded voice, “There is a fire. There is a fire on the first floor.”

No one seemed to be panicking and several of the employees seemed to be saying reassuring things to everyone. In Japanese. We got in line for the elevator down and then slowly became aware that they had stopped running the elevators. Makes sense in the event of a fire please use the stairs. While we were waiting a bilingual Japanese tourist came over and told us that the alarm was probably triggered by the storm, but there was no fire. I was wearing my Flash t-shirt that day and the symbol on it looks like a lightening bolt. The same woman who explained that there was no fire pointed at my shirt and said something in Japanese. I’m not sure what she said, but she seemed to be joking that the lightening was my fault. Everyone in the room stared at me so it must have been funny.

I thought we would just have to wait until they decided to start running the elevator again. Then they started ushering everyone towards the stairwell. We climbed down the 7 flights of stairs, those of us still sore from our Fuji climb not really minding. When we got to the bottom we waited for the rain to stop or at least slow down. When it was a soft enough rain we decided to head out and got the surprise of getting a refund.

The rain had cooled things off a little, but we still grabbed some ice cream out of a vending machine on our way back to the station. We joked several times abut the “Fire on the first floor.” as we walked back in the slight rain.

We had some time before we needed to get on the train for Kyoto so we looked around the station for dinner. We ended up getting a hodge podge of things from a Japanese deli. It was probably our worst meal here. It was nourishment. We went and grabbed our bags out of the locker only to realize we had been looking at the wrong schedule. We were already running late to meet with the caretaker for our next lodging and this could potentially delay us another hour. Kira did some quick recalculating and figured if we caught an express we could catch up to a local and cut about a half an hr off the trip. It would require changing trains in only 8 minutes which ended up being plenty of time.

After our two Shinkansen legs we make it to Kyoto. We had to take the subway 5 stops to get out to the houses where we are staying. It was after 8 o’clock and we had hoped to her here by 6 or 7. Luckily the houses are a out 50 ft from the train stigmatizing, unluckily there was a lot of stairs to carry our suitcases up to get out of the subway.

In Kyoto we are staying in a 150 year old Japanese house that is managed/owned by a friend of Janet’s in the art community, Rob. He had someone meet us to get us into the house and show us how things worked. This man who already had to wait an extra hour or so got to witness us start arguing with each other on where we should sleep that night. He went over various things about each location but one again we had arrived not really caring about anything other than our heads hitting the pillow.

The sights of Kyoto would wait until the next day.


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