Walking the streets of Kyoto seems puzzlingly habitual, surrounded by everything that is so decidedly unfamiliar. The soft curves of temple roofs gently pull us into their zen; immaculately designed gardens crossed with the winter wild, an air of playfulness pruning their potential for solemnity.
Warm-toned lanterns blanket the arcade, and even the narrow alley filled with strange samples of unknown foods, in comfort; our purchases from a second hand kimono shop bring even more comfort to our surprisingly spacious Airbnb, sipping vending machine hot chocolate after braving the cold for okonomiyaki.
We walk through the bamboo forest, a pastel filter over the scene: soft, muted yellow light filtering through leaves to play between soaring powder-green stems (komorebi).
Sitting along the riverbank watching surface sparkle blue-green in patches of sun as ducklings… duck underwater, giggling as their little bills pop up downstream. Longboats steered by young, thin bamboo float languidly.
The golden temple and it’s golden reflection framed by manicured trees; we tried throwing featherlight 1 yen coins into a bowl to wish. Crunching on wasabi peanuts and chewing giant wobbly pancakes.
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
A vermilion forest: tranquillising, somehow, as we pick our way up steps to a silent sacred mountain – even before the Torii are backdropped by deep green foliage.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
A city that watched castles burn and burn again, rebuilding them stronger every time. Gardens so immaculate, one is convinced that ash could never have dusted the ground on which they grow.
Little cushions in a tearoom, watching the ritual and hoping to remember just how mindfully a cup of frothy matcha can be consumed. A sweet made of sugar, seaweed jelly and a Japanese citrus somewhere between lemon and lime that we never came across again.
I bought Kyoto blossom incense from a shop that lured me in with the scent and ate green tea soft serve and fell in love with a painting of cherry blossoms in the moonlight that cost too many yen.
// Bamboo Forest – Arashiyama, Kyoto