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Life in Kyoto--Early Days

Dick Posts His First 2015 Blog

overcast 47 °F

We have a too new camera along for this trip -- a Nikon S9700 -- intended to replace our sweet, late, lamented, little tank Lumix. The intended charm of the new camera is that it's smaller and lighter than the one it replaces, has a great lens, and is more "advanced" than the larger camera it's intended to supplement, and eventually replace as well. But Pam says most of my shots are out of focus. DSCN0387.jpg Friend Jeff thinks it's my jittery hands (ever diplomatic, he refers to it as "motion blur" and made some sort of reference to uncooperatively "fidgety temples"), but my hands are steady. I think it's the fact that it has no viewfinder for composing shots, just a damn screen requiring that I hold the camera away from my body. If God had intended for people to hold cameras away from their bodies instead of stably against their cheekbones, he'd have given us . . . oh, never mind. Still trying to sort out what the damn thing's strengths/weaknesses are. Initial photos posted on this trip are shot with the new camera.

Of much greater concern are Pam's legs . . . which are hurting her badly, almost to the point of immobilization, certainly to the point of immense shared frustration. Although this is mainly a physical thing (and not new -- i.e., it happened before in 2012, was medically diagnosed, treated for months by both modern Western and alternative practitioners) -- it's profoundly depressing/disturbing, has thrown a major crimp into our plans/dreams for this trip, and leaves us wondering about our day-to-day actvities. Yesterday, for example, our outing consisted of a two block walk to a cute little neighborhood cafe for breakfast, and maybe a four block walk home. That was pretty much it for Pam. Around noon I took off alone for a loooong walk. Here are some photos of what I saw along the way. DSCN0372.jpgDSCN0371.jpgDSCN0370.jpgDSCN0412.jpgDSCN0400.jpgDSCN0399.jpgDSCN0397.jpgDSCN0396.jpgDSCN0395.jpg

Eventually I ended up at the big tourism info office at Kyoto Station, where a very helpful matron answered my question: What do educated, culturally curious Kyoto natives do that distinguishes their activities from those of more rushed tourists hoping to optimise short visits? After this, our third multi-week visit to Kyoto, we've done many of the shrines/temples/gardens/kabuki/geisha/museums things. Where do the locals go for concerts, theater, art shows, festivals, etc.? She clearly appreciated the question, and patiently walked/talked me through the deepest, darkest cultural secrets of native Kyotonians -- much of which sailed over my head, through my ears or in and out of any available orifices prone to leakage -- and provided me with a lot of brochures, maps and handouts, many in Japanese, to document her efforts to educate me.

Back to Pam's legs: I have a friend/acquaintance/sensei in Kyoto, a Gyrotonic (https://www.gyrotonic.com/article.aspx) trainer whom I've worked with twice before, and with whom I'd already set up an appoinment for a training session. These Gyro-maniacs are part of a healing/training community -- the system originated as a rehab system for injured ballet dancers in Europe. I emailed her to ask if she knew of any good healers who could work with Pam. The simple answer was "yes" (http://rakuchuan.jp/, yes, for me too all in inpenetrable Japanese, but the photos hold promise), so on Monday I'll get worked out, Pam will get worked on, and we hope to take the lovely person/trainer Mina to dinner afterwards. Report to follow? Maybe.

But there is much much much happening including, beginning two nights ago, the kick-off of the annual (?) Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatouro 2015 neighborhood festival (www.hanatouro.jp/e/higashiyama/index.html). Yes! OUR neighborhood!, right out the door! When we read of the impending children's parade, from the nearby Shoren-in Temple, we leapt up and ran (okay, arose and limped) to see what this would entail.

Amusing and delightful, if lacking the dramatic flair of Mexican children made up as a mass convention of Poncho Villas -- we'll chalk it up to dignified Japanese restraint. Because of Pam's mobility issues, we may finally break down and do precisely the decadent thing we've previously witnessed and laughed at/about -- hire a college-student powered rickshaw to cart us to the various venues of this weeklong festival.

Friends who've followed our prior Kyoto posts may recall that our little home, a traditional machiya,P1090381.jpg is located within about 100 feet of the Shirakawa River, a charming, sylvan, urban creek boasting (in spring) fireflies, ducks and their ducklings, and fish. Thanks to this festival, dozens of sculptures have been installed in the running water, possibly to the chagrin of the fishies, firefly larvae and duckies, but decidely to the amusement of the citizenry.DSCN0491.jpgDSCN0496.jpgDSCN0494.jpg

Enough for now -- we're headed out for a short walk/bus-ride/museum visit/late lunch.

Later:

So far logistics have been a snap. Must have something to do with my mastery of Japanese. Cold, crisp,lovely in our Shirakawa neighborhood. Perhaps another day for leisurely recovery, then we'll see what we can do. Absolutely delighted to be here.

Pretty good day, today. Great short, correctly scoped and executed bus ride almost to the door of an excellent soba lunchDSCN0454.jpg, followed by an inning or two of good-spirited, if recognizably low-quality, senior baseball. DSCN0457.jpgDSCN0468.jpg En route home we stopped at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art where a new show had just opened: Called "PARASOPHIA: Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture" (www.parasophia.jp/en/), we visited only the free galleries, which featured witty, crude robotics and enchanted viewers. DSCN0481.jpgDSCN0488.jpg Then we walked (!) home along our neighborhood Shirakawa creek where the aforementioned festival's art/sculpture installations were still being set up before our very eyes. DSCN0438.jpgAlong the way we stopped at the back door of Pam' favorite traditional ohagi joint -- rain picking up, umbrella failing, home for coffee, ohagi, rest. DSCN0498.jpgDSCN0499.jpg. As of last night, in our fewer than three days in Kyoto we've managed to eat at all three of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, and discovered a great, cheap, and elegant soba restaurant. Life is tough.

Posted by pokano 20:22 Archived in Japan

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