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When we arrived in Arashiyama, the Kyoto landscape was still wearing its early spring colors, which is to say, mostly subdued monochrome gray.

 Arashiyama (嵐山) is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons.

There’s a festive atmosphere here, with food stalls, restaurants, many temples and shrines. I am drawn here repeatedly by the natural beauty of the setting of the area against the river and the mountains .  I particularly enjoy wending my way further into the hills, away from the crowds.  As is usual, in most tourist spots, tourists seem to congregate in certain places and with a little determination you can manage to get away from the crowds.

I was struck by the numbers of young people who enjoy getting dressed up in kimono to spend the day here. This being the twenty-first century, selfie sticks and iPhones were always close by. Overlooking that, they looked like brilliant butterflies against the relatively still somber landscape, which is waiting to explode in a few days once the cherry blossoms start firing, into a magical kingdom.

But before the competition began from the landscape, their brilliance was the focal point!

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.


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