Kyoto, Japan’s famous ancient capital, is a city steeped in beauty and mystique. However it is not a city of one story, or just one image. Kyoto is a kaleidescope of sorts, with each small frame representative of a different perspective. Until now, I’ve never come across a book that reveals such a wide span of impressions of the city, while plumbing deep into it’s rarely seen corners as communicated through the colorful subjective of it’s contributing authors. The book is “Deep Kyoto Walks”, and it’s well worth the read.
“Deep Kyoto Walks” is comprised of 20 chapters, written by 16 different authors, with each main chapter following a specific “walk” through Kyoto. As mentioned in the foreward, “Deep Kyoto Walks” isn’t so much as a guidebook of the city, as it is different people’s experiences in the city. The result is an intriguing mosaic, each piece revealing a view yet unseen of Kyoto. To some of the stories I felt a great connection, as if I too was being part of the great story of Kyoto, and others seemed far off, belonging to someone else. I believe this is one of the greatest strengths of the book, taking one up and down their own impressions of each entry. Like the city itself, we don’t have to love every part, but unless we take the effort to look how else could we find the hidden gems?
Here is a short clip from the foreward that can better explain the point of it all better than me:
“Though there is much to learn about Kyoto in the pages that follow, this is not a typical guidebook, with a simple set of directions to the sites of historical or architectural import. It is an anthology of meditative walks that express each writer’s deeper relationship to the area in which they live. All of the writers in this book have lived in Kyoto long enough to put down roots and call this city their home. They know their neighborhoods with the familiarity of old friends. In the walks that follow they will wander through Kyoto’s streets encountering old and intimate memoreis, and making new discoveries too. For this old city is alive and ever changing. And in walking these streets and recording their thoughts and feelings, these writers are reaffirming their personal relationship with Kyoto and creating a fine tribute to the city that we love.”
That being said, I would love to take a few of these walks myself as outlined in “Deep Kyoto Walks.” I’ve been to Kyoto a handful of times, and yet been to only a very few of the places mentioned in the book. For someone who wants to see something unwritten in the common guide or map, this is a priceless tool to navigate the myriad experiences of Kyoto.
I came across “Deep Kyoto Walks” by Ted Taylor, co-editor of the book. You can find more info about “Deep Kyoto Walks” on his website, “Notes from the ‘Nog” (http://notesfromthenog.blogspot.jp/?wref=bif). But less than that, you chould check out his site because it’s full of amazing experiences within Kyoto, hiking around Japan, and anything else related and random well worthy of your attention.
So yeah, my advice to you all is plan a trip to Kyoto, get “Deep Kyoto Walks”, create your own experience in the city of Kyoto, check out Ted Taylor’s “Notes from the ‘Nog”, and continue to read Gaijin Explorer from yours truly.
Thank you for reading.