We arrived in Kyoto on Monday night, a lot later than anticipated owing to our unplanned adventures in Hiroshima.
We were staying in a very traditional Japanese guest house, the owner of which had insisted, on the phone, that Irish Friend Two was French. We don’t know why – perhaps her name sounded French, perhaps her accent sounded French, who can say? “I’m not French,” she explained patiently, several times. “I’m Irish… and listen, do you have a room?”
He did, and we trundled up to the building door to claim it. The door was locked. There was no one in the dimly lit reception area within. It was only 9pm, so we couldn’t be locked out for the night, surely? Indignant, we shook the door and hammered on it.
“Right, enough of this,” said Irish Friend Two, stalking off to find a phone. She returned looking irritated. There had been a few communication problems during her brief conversation, but eventually they’d established who she was. “Oh, you’re the French girl,” he said. “YES!” exclaimed Irish Friend Two, relieved. “Look, we’re standing outside the door, and it’s locked.” The man sounded confused. “I am not there, just go in, I left you message.” Irish Friend Two was getting a little annoyed. “But the door is locked!!” she repeated. “Is not locked!!” he retorted. This went on for some time, until he told her that he’d be there in half an hour.
We shook the door again just to confirm that it was indeed locked and that the man was talking out of his backside. “I gave him a piece of my mind,” said IFT as we sat back down on the doorstep, sweltering in the humidity as usual. Eventually she walked down to the nearest shop to get us a nice cold beer each, while I sat on with the bags. Meanwhile, two non-Japanese guys came along and looked at me sitting on the step. We nodded at each other. They stepped over me. And just as I opened my mouth to tell them the unfortunate news that the door was locked…
…they slid open the sliding doors.
How embarrassing. I explained the matter to IFT when she returned, and we scurried inside with our bags to find a sweet little note written to us in French, directing us to our beautiful room, where we sat and sipped our beers until the owner came back. “Bon soir!” he said, shortly before he worked out that we weren’t French. We apologised. He told us he’d waited for us for 3 hours before he had to go out. We apologised. He told IFT off for setting her beer on the floor by her sleeping mat. We apologised. Then he turned and kicked over my beer, also on the floor, and spilled it all over the tatami, to his (and our) utter horror.
We arrive late, ruin his day, yell at him about the clearly open door being locked, lie about our nationality, sit in the room drinking beer, and then spill it over the sacred tatami. We are the worst guests ever.