“After all we are in Kiyomizudera, the temple of pure water. In a way, this torrential rain could not be more appropriate.”
The giant South African in my group did not seem impressed by my improvised bullshit. Morale was in danger. I called upon the last chapter in the Book of Bullshit: History Mystory.
“This temple was built without using nails.”
This nugget was delivered with a drumroll, as if up until then, it was the nails that had been boring everyone to tears at temples; it was the bloody nails that had been utterly spoiling their enjoyment.
“In the olden days, people used to leap off the temple`s 13 metre high platform. They believed that if they survived the fall, their wish would come true.” (This rehearsed spiel tests their interest levels. If I look up and see blank faces after it, I know for certain nobody listens to me). I look up. Only a third of the group still appears to be breathing.
“So anyway, last night I went out and necked 3 bottles of shochu and ended up sleeping with a…….Ah hah, now you`re listening. So anyway, the fascinating thing about nails is that………”
Rain had stopped our walking tour. Now I was drowning in tidal waves of my own bullshit. In a replica of last summer, I had brought a group to Kiyomizu without checking the forecast, and paid the price with a biblical downpour. Anyone can make a mistake, but only tour leaders repeat the same mistake – a quote lifted from my book on Confucius.
Above our heads the grey sky rumbled ferociously and ominously, as if it had missed both breakfast and lunch and was searching for a scapegoat. Lightning strikes lit up the city centre.
The rain imprisoned everybody inside. The temple grounds were transformed from the usual procession of tourists into a stage. Under the thatched eaves, Chinese and Korean tourists, squealing in excitement, wriggled for viewing space. Screaming schoolkids, risking a soaking, rushed outside to make a peace sign and pose for a photo while the drain directed the deluge onto green maple leaves beneath our feet.
The South African giant loped over and stood next to me.
“This is actually quite nice – being able to stop and take it all in.”
He accepted the rain as a blessing, not a curse. I wanted to kiss him, but couldn`t – he`s quite tall.