Almost Alaska

1It’s six in the morning. Aki’s other human and I ride a local taxi down a street lined with blocky, monochromatic buildings. The cab smells of tobacco smoke. Just now the driver turned off his wind shield wipers. We cross over a river and start climbing a narrow street lined with older, traditional building with heavy tile roofs and white walls. Soon tourists will flood the street hoping to buy handicrafts or Japanese ginger food.

The cabbie drops us at the bottom of broad stone steps leading to the Kiyomizudera temple. A women is kneeling before a large bronze bowl. She rings it with a wooden spoon each time a supplicant throws donates a coin to the temple.

Outside, fragments of fog lifting out of the hardwood forest. It could be Juneau, if not for the temple bell, and the lacquer-shiny orange temple towers rising toward the marine-gray sky.


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