Ahhh Kyoto. I lived here for five years, eons ago, but it’s taking a little time to get my bearings. We biked over to our old neighborhood and I couldn’t quite make it out. It was very disorienting to not recognize anything; the edges of the city have changed so much and been built up.
There are still vegetable fields in our corner of town. We used to buy tomatoes from a farmer couple just down the street from our house. But the buildings and the orientation weren’t right.
Many of the older buildings have been torn down for more modern ones. Some, like the one below, are a little interesting, but there’s a lot of multi-story concrete boxes as well.
Old Kyoto still exists, of course, and it is very beautiful. You just have to get away from the major streets and dip into the side streets to know why people love this city.
We have a nice little airb&b in a great neighborhood that we have settled into. That means more meals at home, a local sento (bathhouse) to go to (one of my favorite things about living in Japan), and settling into the rhythm of life here. And that also means grocery shopping, which is always a fascinating endeavor in a foreign country.
and a little bewildering, because sometimes you can’t read all the words
And sometimes because you can (sort of)
Pictures and props help
or sometimes not
Meanwhile, We did see one thing that reminded us of home:
I’m afraid that by the time I get fully reoriented here the trip will be over! I can already feel that I need to come back, to stay in one place (Kyoto) and soak it in, and to work for a while, while under the influence of the place. It seems like it would be mottainai (wasteful), after reconnecting with old friends and this place I called home for five years, to not come back. Even the language is bubbling to the surface, things I didn’t think I could remember. And today, after walking through the temple grounds of Shokokuji, a major Rinzai Zen temple, where we went to see a lovely exhibition of Edo and Meiji era paintings that I am familiar with, I thought I could be happy just visiting a different temple every day for a few weeks (there are enough temples in Kyoto to walk through a different one every day for months). They are peaceful and beautiful, and I will have to photograph some to post.