Today I’m talking to you about a very special e-book!
Deep Kyoto: Walks is an anthology of 18 meditative walks about Japan’s ancient capital by renowned Kyoto experts. More than a guide book, it is a rich and varied account of life lived in Kyoto by those who call it home.
Anyway, I loved this book. Each chapter’s author has a quite unique way of expressing their feelings, and, every time, in their own way, I felt I was transported into the city, and could almost separate myself from the real place where I was reading the book.
As most of the Japanese people do, I read it on my way to work, everyday, in the train (and on my way back home, if I’m not too tired). I must confess I’m not like most Tokyo inhabitants, who read their books and use their smartphones even in a hell-like packed train. I like to read it with space, with time, with silence. That’s why it takes me a lot of time to finish xD
“This book then is part tribute to Japan’s ancient capital, but also a call to revive that lost art of strolling, of walking for its own sake. It’s only natural. We are after all walking beasts and have been so since we stepped out of the trees. What better exercise than to stretch your legs? And when you feel burdened by life’s concerns, get outside and walk them off. Let the air on your face refresh you. Feel your legs moving, your blood pumping and know you are alive. See the faces and lives of those who walk around you with their own myriad worries, hopes and dreams. You are not alone. Yes, walking is good therapy. It won’t cure you, but it will help. So whether in Kyoto or any other city, always take the time for a stroll around the block. Walking will expand your limited horizons of here and there, to the living breathing streets around you — until they too become your home. Walking will expand your limited ideas of self to embrace your wider community. Walking will help you to slow down and enjoy this moment now, wherever you happen to be.”
“A walk in Kyoto will inevitably bring new discoveries. It is always a delight to come across a new café tucked into some quiet neighborhood.”
“When I stepped outside again around midnight, hundreds of unguarded stalls, all filled to the brim with precious pottery, bordered the expanse of Gojō. The sense of trust that people can have for each other here can be so uplifting.”
“One can never be satisfied by cherry blossom. Legendary haiku poet Matsuo Bashō famously wrote “Even in Kyoto… I yearn for Kyoto”. I might add, even when I see the cherry blossom, I yearn for cherry blossom.”
“I love this shrine and feel that sitting here, in the quiet of this forest, the soul of ancient Japan whispers to me.”
“Now the rain has set in and I’m getting wet, so I say goodbye. No response. As I am walking away, to my back, he shouts in English, loud and clear, “Goodbye!””
“My eyes take in the green. My ears fill with birdsong. The mountain’s humidity wraps me gently. Just a few minutes before, I was dashing up the slope of Ginkaku-ji on my bicycle, but now I feel like I’m in a different world completely. It’s as if the rustle of my jacket and the sound of my footfalls have generated my presence here. An odd reverberation.”
“Hōnen-in is not a tourist place to see things per se, but a space to feel, to sense the magic of shadows and light, man entwined with nature, the ‘now’ connected to all time. My brother visited once and was amazed at the ‘quality of the silence’ and noted that silence is not simply the absence of noise. There’s a vibration to silence that one can sense. Maybe it’s the spirit of Hōnen himself.”
“One of the greatest summer joys is to climb the gate, find a comfy spot to sit down on the east side facing the mountains and watch the billowing summer clouds slowly drift by as in a dream.”
“So, intending to stay a year, I stayed 18. I came with a suitcase and I left with a wife, two children, and more stuff than you can cram into a shipping container.”
“We like to think of ourselves as in control of our lives, but there are moments when you realise you’re just an indistinguishable droplet in the great stream of existence. There’s a certain inevitability about it all, and perhaps the best we can do is help others to enjoy or endure the ride.”
“As Donald Richie noted, you can never tire of living in Japan for, no matter how long you have lived there, each day brings the unexpected. And invariably the unexpected proves enriching.”
“A subtle irony dawns on me: how the introduction of certain man-made elements such as a building, veranda and garden (as well as impeccable siting) can heighten one’s awareness of nature in some ways even more than if one were sitting alone in a forest, removed from any kind of man-made form. Why is that?”
“Max laments the loss of the vibe the street had when he and Ryotaro first busked there twenty years ago. “Back then it was friendly. There weren’t any chains, no convenience stores, none of the big karaoke places, or the people out on the street trying to pull you in. You know the sleazy places. They were sleazy but they weren’t organized sleazy. It was a really different atmosphere. And you never saw fights. Now there’s a police box on Kiyamachi. That’s not good either.”
“It seems that people staring at their smart phones while walking the streets of Kyoto deny themselves something precious and real.”
“As posters on city buses note: “Nihon ni Kyoto ga atte yokkata. Thank goodness Japan has Kyoto.” I agree.”