Write about Kyoto, he said.

There was one day I took the train from the whirring downtown of Osaka to the slow meander of Kyoto by myself. Most of the time I went with friends or with Jennifer and she and I did dirty things in a mostly abandoned train car and on the steps of a buddhist temple. But this time I wanted to wander the city, let the ancient in.

I find that if you get into the corners of the touristy places on earth you can get a bit of the sense. Not a lot. it's slight, and I know it's just me putting it there, my brain warping around all the things that are different, the architecture, the light in the sky, the sun throwing shadows at all new angles, the crumbling smell of plants that my olfactories haven't had to process before. All that works around in your head, firing off new synapses, pulling you into what you think is a feeling of the past, but it's really a present, a completely new and crazy present. But... it's still something and feels very spiritual to me (notice I didn't say religious).

So I hiked up the hill toward Kiyo Mizudera. Shops selling all the brightly cheap trinkets, the beckoning kitties, their mechanical arms scratching at the air. Up past the pagoda, but kept going past the temple. There is a trail that takes you to the hill opposite the hill where the temple sits. There are (were?) trails through the small forest and shrubs. I passed a man painting and turned to look at the scene he was painting. That photo is below.

But I kept wandering until I found a small spot to sit and write a little. Once or twice in the 20 minutes I sat there I was interrupted by people passing, but mostly all I heard were birds and distant voices. That's when I start feeling like I'm drifting into the past, picturing everything as it must have been back then. The people kind of go away, the modern sounds, until it's bamboo bending and whispering with wind, the birds, the trickle of a small stream.

I try to do a lot. Sometimes it's easy, out in nature where there aren't that many signs of the present. And sometimes it's near impossible. In Kyoto it helps, it's foreign to me, the already ancient temples and buildings, the river running through town at the bottom of the hill.

So, write about Kyoto. I didn't really. Just a moment, or a collection of a few moments after I took the photo below.