The past week took me away to the city. After spending so much time tucked away in the secluded hills it is sometimes a nice change. Yet, I always find myself appreciating where I live all the more. I've always thought that I have appreciated it enough but there seems to always be more room for a bit more.
After a walk from Namba to Tamatsukuri with my weighted down back pack I was accosted by a homeless man. I'm sure if he pestered a Japanese person they would just ignore him. I gave him enough for a meal and to wash his clothes. He seemed respectable enough but not being able to see what he would do with the money left me hesitant. He wouldn't stop bothering me and my charity ran out. I wouldn't soon forget as I sat at a hot metal table watching horumon and kimchee okonamiyaki cooking up with my friends. The sizzling cabbage brought back fond memories of a younger me, one that probably wouldn't have been eating the chewy organs of livestock.
I had passed through the bowels of Dontonbori around 5:30AM on my way to meet up with friends. It was an interesting place at that hour. Girls walking around in dresses and spiked heels clacking on the dirty concrete. Some hung their heads low and lay passed out while their friends slurped bowls of cheap ramen. Now it was the opposite. Streets packed full of people in rosy cheeks and exquisite fashion. It still felt just as hollow as before.
Either the noodles were that bad or she was annoyed by how she was out styled by every other girl.
But I'll take the bait. Fresh takoyaki from the street vendors wins me over easily. I scoffed as my friends put a ball into their mouth and couldn't speak for a few minutes. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with them. Then the lava temperature inside of the ball was scalding my own mouth, so much that if I swallowed it probably would have left burns on my esophagus. A somewhat scary moment. On this day I also found out why south of the tracks in Shinsekai is considered a sketchy locale. And it's not just for the shogi and chess parlors.
We went into the hills of Kobe and had a picnic with people I met for the first time. I ate a wonderful lunch that I couldn't stop singing the praises of. After a roll down a hill and too many group pictures later, we found ourselves in the city of Kobe hunting for a Chinese restaurant in the light rain. But I couldn't resist a pork dumpling and bbq duck sandwich before that. The restaurant owners were working hard to get customers. Who knows what difference any of the places actually have in terms of food. All I remember is a Chinese woman studying Japanese behind us as I ate chili shrimp in a thick sauce.
Sometimes you wonder why bird poop is white. Sometimes you get pooped on by a bird and it isn't white for a change. But what are the chances of that?
Sometimes you also wonder how many years worth of dust the ceramic wares have.
Sometimes you just can't make sense of anything and you leave it at that.
Quiet gardens in Kyoto off the beaten path restore my mind from all the chaos churning about in the city streets. The groups of elementary kids on their excursions and Golden Week tourists fill the popular spots.
A journey along the Philosophers Path all the way from Kyoto station by foot was not so bad. Here, at least, there is a bit of continued refuge until Ginkakuji takes most of
that away. But a four layer ice cream cone brings me back once again.
It didn't matter that I ate a green tea cream puff not moments before
either. A train ride down the Keihan line brings back other memories of long past fire festivals and solitary trips to Kyoto.
I've been here so many times before. At night it feels like it's all mine.
I could come here over 1,000 times but the mystique is never lost. It is special to me. The cawing birds and stray cats roam the hill. The fox statues seem to watch my every move and probably come to life when I turn my sight.
Kyoto is a place we might love more than any other.
We loved the yakiniku with hearts full of gluttony.
In the morning or evening sun the reminders of life stand tall. But tomorrow I wake to the hills. It's good to go back and carry with me the memories of great friends and good times.