Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Japan Old & New

Japan, as one might expect, is a place of contrasts. The drinks vending machine situated within the ancient, incense-infused temple; the pachinko (pinball) parlour screaming neon not far from beautiful, old-style wooden houses. Kyoto has more temples and shrines than bus stops, but it has a hell of a lot of bus stops, the usual glut of western-style advertising boards, noisy aural product promotion, and so on.

However, there are places of peace and, unlike, Osaka, the "little Tokyo" just a short train ride away, there has been an attempt here to minimise the pandering to consumer needs, and to retain something of the older ways. This is where you can still see geisha and maiko (trainee geisha) walking down the streets; where there are still wooden temples/houses un-touched by the bombs of the second world war, which laid waste to so many castles and temples across the country. You can purchase plastic souvenirs, but this is where people from all across Japan come to witness tradition; to remember their history; to enjoy ancient beauty; and to pray.

Plum blossoms are blooming!
Kyoto is one of my favourite places in the world, and already the plum blossoms are adding to the beauty of the city, which is more like a village in its genteel ways. I feel very lucky to be here. Of course I enjoy the faster pace at times, but its this glimpse of ancient Japan that works as a wonderful balm to my oft-overworked, poet-performer soul. I highly recommend a visit here! Until anon - Mab xxx

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