Kyoto is my kind of place.
Beautiful, peaceful, entirely bikable, quiet, clean, organized, uncluttered, magical, spiritual and very old...
It has been so wonderful to be close with family again.
And to be in a first world country again that is not hot as blazes. The spring here is in full swing. We unfortunately missed the Hanami season, but there are still many colorful fragrant blossoms to enjoy. The cooler (non-polluted) air is also a treat :)
I like the Japanese. I like their language, fast and sing-songy with lots of emphasis on seemingly endless streams of hard consonants. I like the friendliness and giddiness that seem to emanate from the Japanese, particularly the women. I like that the staccato "Hi" means yes and you hear it all of the time. I love that our taxi driver wears white gloves and the doors automatically open. I like that everyone bicycles everywhere.
And I love the sento. Twice now I have gotten naked with about 40 other Japanese women in a public bath that was just plain awesome. I love the relaxed attitude to nudity in this setting. We are all women, we all have the same parts, we can all sit and enjoy this hot water together in a friendly, peaceful atmosphere and do some good things for our health at the same time. Sometimes I feel like in the states we are so neurotic about nudity, even though we have such an over-sexualized culture. For example, people are often offended by breastfeeding in public in the U.S. I've noticed it is so much more common around the world to see women breastfeeding in public than back home.
I love the variety of quiet natural spaces you can bike or walk to to take a reprieve from the bustling city. I like that there is hardly any trash or waste anywhere, I feel like there is a lot of care and respect for this special place.
Bizarro Japanese Biscuit below (my cat's name is Biscuit. We started naming everyone we saw that looked like friends and family back home on this trip "Bizarro ___". This is bizarro Biscuit).
The temples and shrines here are so old and mysterious to me. The history of this culture goes so far back in time, and there are physical remnants of what it was like in 500 AD, 800 AD, etc. This is exciting to me. Our American history is so infantile in many ways, it's cool to see artwork from 1500 years ago!
These guys were great. They were working their dance moves along the Kamo Gawa River with such passion. Check them out here.
The incredible detail that is given to plastic fake food outside of restaurants to show you what they have to offer is fascinating to me.
Such accuracy and lifelikeness!
It has been great to finally meet some of Brian's closest friends from the time he lived here 10 years ago. We had a great day with Kris yesterday hiking up the Daimonji mountain right in town. There is a special fire festival every year that takes place on this mountain where the man spreading his arms symbol is alight to commemorate spirits of deceased family members.
As far as the earthquake, things seem to be quite normal here in Kyoto. It is about 500 km from the site of the earthquake, and there has not been much disruption. We haven't decided yet if we will visit Tokyo. I think I would like to but will wait until after my meditation retreat to decide. If you do not hear from me on this blog for a little while, it is because I am away meditating to the best of my ability for 10 days. To sum up though, I love love love Kyoto :)