The Kyoto Known To Us

Kyoto is one of the world’s greatest walking cities, and its parallels to other urban centers that pay obeisance to the past while attracted to the present and future is part of its deep appeal.

I have been here almost countless times, stretching back about 12 years, and each time is new and familiar.

Having time yesterday, today, and tomorrow means a chance to return to places that fill me up and other spots with that potential.

I am in eastern Kyoto, just a few feet below, “The Philosopher’s Path,” and a deep, mountainous forest.

Yesterday I walked along the path briefly and then through shrouded neighborhoods of enormous trees, oaks and maples, alongside and within temple grounds.

Temples were shut down during the Meiji Restoration due to collaboration of Zen Buddhism with feudal lords.  Japan needed to modernize in order to avoid Western encroachment, and did so, unlike its Asian neighbors, but then look what happened.

From the temples, I walked into the heart of Gion, its main thoroughfare, and then into modern Kyoto and to Takashimaya and Nishiki market.  Kyoto is not in the league of Tokyo in terms of goods, like food and fabrics and lacquerware, so it takes time to find value.  Also, so many tourists means that so much of what is on offer is designed for volume sales.

But I found beautiful socks and cotton gloves.

Then wandering around, looking for soba or udon, or maybe pizza or pasta, at places I knew.  Then deciding, : No, better try a new spot.  So up to the top floor of Takashimaya where all the restaurants are located.

I had no idea that Owariya had a branch there!  This five centuries old soba shop, original location in rickety wooden building, is a favorite.  Soba kitsune, draft beer: $12.

Then back home.

That night: Dinner with friend at local hole-in-wall, that was lively and delicious, and home to bed.


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