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Being here produces an almost constant high for me.  It’s allowed me to appreciate the drizzly days and foggy nights happening recently in Kyoto as being as beautiful and welcome as the sunny bright days. It’s admiring the magnificence of a huge polished wood counter when out for dinner at a neighborhood restaurant and the elegant perfection of an old machiya.

It’s the almost constant delight taken in Japanese design and the surprises waiting for me each time I leave my building.

diorama made from silk cocoons.

antique case in front of shop holding bonsai

It’s feeling completely at one with my surroundings, of releasing into the moment.  It’s visiting with friends and being grateful for their enrichment of my life. It’s going to a big Ikenobo display, feeling a bit underwhelmed, then suddenly concentrating on a small piece of the arrangement and watching the small miracles of a single flower come into focus.

There’s a wholeness here that permeates the everyday culture.  The exchanged smiles, the unfailing politeness between people, the deep listening and awareness of the other.  The delight taken in acknowledgement.  The reverence for nature and the seasons and history is beautiful despite the urge to modernize and the sometimes degrading influence of tourism.

nursery school picnic in arashiyama, kyoto.

I’ll be the first to admit that as an outsider I can only understand a small percentage of the reality of life here.  I am free of the famous family and friend obligations that are imposed by the society.  My assessment and response is purely personal.  I do not understand the language, so much of the communication here goes sailing right over my head.  I do not work here, so I have the freedom that a retired life permits.

looking out the window!

My age indicates that my years are now numbered, but the glow of the setting sun is pure gold, and I’m often in a state of what I can only call bliss.

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.