Kyoto: Less is More and More is More

Kyoto is Japan’s cultural center and land of many temples.  Kyoto has a long history and was once Japan’s capital.  It feels relaxed compared to Tokyo but, like Tokyo, it is warm and polite, clean and safe, and attentive to some of the finer details.  Everything here is so visual! Traditional Japanese style says a lot with a little. Drama is presented with simple beauty and attention to detail. The message is there if you are paying attention.


My first destination in Kyoto was Nishiki Market, a covered arcade that runs about four blocks through the central part of town.  The stalls sell every imaginable kind of Japanese food and there are some craft shops as well. The market made me so happy and reminded me of one of my favorite grown up picture books .  wrapeggs

Nishiki Market is this book in real life. Everything is presented with such love and care, and with a style that honors natural elements. You wonder how a man who spends his life selling chestnuts knows so much about how to make his food look like part of an artist’s portfolio.


Pickled vegetables are a very big deal and there are some very traditional and complex ways of processing them







A box lunch I ate. Each piece is a different flavor and texture — but very subtle after the taste explosions in Cambodia and Thailand.










Choin-in Temple






The main garden at Tofukuji  (no relation) Temple. The lines in the sand represent waves.

Yesterday was also temple and shrine day. Temples are Buddhist and shrines are Shinto.  There are not many tourists here at this time of year it seems but the temples and shrines are nevertheless very popular on the weekends with local families and couples.


Smaller Zen garden at Tofukuji Temple. The posts were taken by the artist from a demolished outhouse on the temple grounds. The structure is to remind us to cleanse ourselves before we enter the main garden.


The dragon on the ceiling at Tofukuji Temple. In Japan, dragons are symbols of safety and protection and therefore honored. They don’t steal maidens.












One of my favorite things about the temples are the small quiet rituals everyone can enjoy and one of my favorite rituals is the fortune paper. You pick a stick with a number and tell the number to the monk. He gives you the corresponding fortune written in beautiful kanji on rice paper.  If you get a bad fortune you may tie it on to a small fence and the temple will chase away the bad fortune for you.  If you get a good fortune, you keep the paper.  I kept mine!


See all the little pieces of paper on the fence? Mine is not on there.


My fortune says I will have a great year reinventing myself with beautiful family and friends and a new place to live, and I will have challenges that will be favorably resolved. What could be better than that?












Here are some more temple pictures I liked.











Fushimi Inari Shrine has thousands of “torii” (gates) going up the hill. Fushimi Inari is the most important of Japan’s inari temples, which protect the rice harvest.






Me walking with my fortune paper through the torii at Fushimi Inari Shrine













At the end of my day I was in Gion, an old neighborhood in Kyoto where the geisha houses are located, which means geishas.


This is one of my favorite photos from my travels. I am glad I missed the shot I was trying to get.


A lovely thing to see:
through the paper window’s hole,
the Galaxy.

Issa (1772-1826)


  1. Wonderful photos and narrative! Your blog is interesting and fun to read and I always look forward to new entries. So glad you are enjoying this stint in Japan.

    I wonder where your new place to live will be? I’m thinking maybe Mars….

  2. Yes this is a wonderful narrative. To check in with you when you open the door is magical and transcendent. Astonishing fortune!! Beautiful and evocative photos, especially when we get a glimpse of you! Xxoo

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