A Day in My Life in Kyoto

Truth be told, I was not feeling well last week. Since I’m prone to upper respiratory infections,  I travel with a stash of medicine to help insure I recover more quickly when illness strikes.  I saw a local doctor who added to my pharmacological intake, and confirmed that my lungs were clear, although I had a cough bad enough to rouse the dead.  That said, my energy was drained.  I  tired quickly so most days were spent close to my bed so I could lay down as necessary.  The good news is, I’m about 85% better today. Although I was a bit apprehensive I decided it was Time to leave the nest and head out for a while. If I ran out of steam, I could taxi home.

We’ve had a splendid run of great weather.  Some of the cherry blossoms have already peaked but the season is still in full swing with later blooming varieties taking the stage.  There are too many tourists in town, still searching for blossoms, so I decided to stick to the streets and find my visual satisfaction elsewhere.

First stop was the new Issey Miyake flagship store that opened around the corner from our apartment.  Miyake meticulously  restored an old machiya (townhouse)and kura(storage house) as the perfect elegant background for his goods.

His clothing is not wearable in my opinion, but his innovative use of textiles has been revolutionary. His bold graphic raincoats designed in collaboration with a graphic artist in the kura are an art installation and that’s enough reason to visit..

In order not to exhaust myself,  I easily decided it was time for a matcha latté at a small café overlooking a Japanese garden.

Restored, my feet knew the way to one of my favorite stationery stores in the Teramachi arcade. Kyukyodo. For Y100 each, I selected a handful of postcards that captured the spirit of spring in Japan. Stuck up on my office wall with washi tape, they’ll be an easy throw back to time spent here.  IMG_0306

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I had one more must -see-again visit to make before I returned home and that was to Gallery Kei. I met Kei Kawasaki several years ago while on a tour.  She owns a small exquisitely curated gallery on Teramachi dori.  She specializes in Japanese textiles woven before cotton was available in Japan.  Old farmer’s jackets, fragments of old kimono, boro, mostly all indigo. A solitary peach tree was in full blossom in front of her gallery.

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Entering her realm is practically a spiritual experience.  My eye was drawn to a fragment of textile laying on top of a basket of fragments. The pattern is layered and quite unusual, Kei-san confirmed.  I wonder what the woman  who made this would think if she knew it was about to find a home thousands of miles away?IMG_0309 (1)

 

 

Jolly Time for Matcha

Taking a Stroll

Yesterday late afternoon, the sun was still warm as I strolled/sauntered several blocks south of our apartment, to Bukko-ji, a progressive neighborhood temple, well off the tourist grid. I decided to say “saunter” because it indicates a growing self confidence and jolly spirit I have while navigating the streets of Kyoto.

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Design, everywhere

While there, I met a young man who works in a store  located on the temple grounds that showcases local and regional products.  He’s studying to be a monk, while managing the store.   He was eager to speak with me; had studied photography at Long Beach State, and explained the innovative purpose of the D & Department, which has a number of branches throughout the country.  I admired the chairs they sold by Tendo, a Japanese furniture manufacturer they represent.

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Drink Your Matcha

I took him up on his suggestion to try out the chair, and had a cup of matcha in the adjacent cafe outfitted with dozens of them. As I sipped my tea,  I watched local toddlers play under the watchful eyes of their moms. The kids practiced throwing stones, but thankfully not at each other or visitors.  The world seemed safe and normal. Young children are growing up strong in a protective environment here.How sad that this can seem novel.

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I felt happy and almost as if I belonged in this  small, intimate and inviting piece of the Kyoto community, almost forgetting that I’m not Japanese.

 

MY BLUE HEAVEN, aka A Flower orgy

The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers. ~Basho

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There are two distinct  kinds of temple/shrine goers in Japan.  One type believes that if you’ve seen one temple, you’ve seen them all.  The other’s credo is that it is impossible to find a temple that doesn’t have something to admire.   I’m in the latter category.

There’s an affinity in temples and shrines for splendid gardens, sometimes grand, but often intimate.  For the temple addict, the beauty of the natural world is heightened by the artistry of the designed landscape.  The garden provides inspiration, while the temple or shrine set on site, provides the opportunity to give thanks.  It’s a perfect marriage.

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I gasped at the first sight of 10,000 hydrangeas simultaneously in bloom at the Mimurotoji Temple garden. I entered into a dream world of blueness, in delicious shades and tints of the blue spectrum.DSC03962

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An outdoor café sits in the center of the garden.  It’s a perfect place to indulge in a chilly green tea  shaved ice or a green tea parfait that helps to cool the summer heat.

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When I finally bid goodbye to the hydrangeas, I went to visit the temple.  I climbed three sets of very steep stone steps, discovering that this ancient structure was framed with hundreds of regal blooming lotus.  What a fine day!

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