When traveling, we continually find ourselves in the role of “guest.” We stay in Guest Houses, or if we’re lucky, Guest “Suites.” Inherent in this relationship is the expectation that we leave a minimal footprint wherever our path takes us. After all, if you stay in a someone’s house, you don’t take the silverware with you upon departure! You’re just passing through. And if your behavior is minimally invasive, your proprietor is likely to welcome other guests in the future.

Walking through Kyoto’s hyper-busy Higashiyama district as the sun goes down, Donica and I are struck by the sheer audacity of the other tourists. They’re yelling, snapping photos, clogging the narrow, traditional streets and basically acting like they own the place.

But something magical happens after sunset in Higashiyama. The tourists — no doubt wandering down to the Gion district to badger a geisha into a selfie – have all departed and the “guests” come out. As we walk the quiet streets, lined with ceramic stores, restaurants and tea shops, joined only by other placid photographers, it’s easy to imagine a simpler, quieter Japan. My overwhelming emotion in this place is “pay respect” and “do not disturb.”

Imagine if we could pass through all of life as guests, floating above the petty dramas of this world. Of course, this does raise the question: If we’re just temporary travelers in the game of life, where do we come from? Where is home? Somewhere beyond?