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Living in Kyoto


By June 25, 20154 Comments

japanese kneeling

A few short decades ago when I’d visit Japan, I could coil and uncoil from sitting or kneeling on the floor to standing up as effortlessly and gracefully as any native Japanese.  Probably just a shade below that of a professional geisha.   I possessed an ease and self assurance that I knew was secretly admired by other visiting foreigners, if not by the Japanese.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

How far the high and mighty can tumble. These days, I would compare my attempts to rise from the floor to my feet to that of an aging elephant. My knees just are not that eager to make the effort. When asked politely to perform routine tasks, they act as if they’re not a part of my body anymore.  Let’s just call them non responsive.  It can be disheartening.

low chairs

Descending from standing to sitting  is equally precarious, but is more easily faked.  Once my bent knees refuse to support any more deepening, I allow my body to just plummet  the remaining 3 -4 feet to the ground. If someone is watching me, they could see my speed accelerate, but fortunately most people don’t pay attention. I must trust that a low chair will be there to catch my impact, if not, I might make a hole straight through the floor.

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Mora Chartrand says:

    Yes, aging knees certainly are no longer the friends to us they once were. I can empathize completely with you. Especially enjoyed the link to the YouTube video. Thankful I never aspired to become a geisha. 🙂

  • mark dendy says:

    now i’m trying to own the grad it takes to accept that i can’t go down like that any more since the meniscus surgery. sometimes in excited creative move i will bust a deep move to demonstrate and i always pay for it after. your grace will never leave you. it just goes inside