- I sit aboard the Shinkansen or “Bullet Train” riding from Tokyo to Kyoto sipping Sapporo beer and enjoying the countryside zipping past the windows.. I find it hard to watch the telephone poles go by. My tummy twists around one of those poles making it uncomfortable. Yet, beyond the blur of telephone poles lies the towns, villages, rice paddies, and even a mountain or two.
- This is far from any reality or dream I had as a child. It proves the statement “Much can be achieved with persistence.”
- Dawn has come to Kyoto, Japan and gently nudged me to awaken to a new day. It awakens an excitement, yes even an eagerness. What does this journey of the sun across the sky have for me today? My imagination runs rampant and it is hard to contstrain it. However, each new day brings a freshness, beauty, and knowledge no matter where I am.
- The trees are just beginning to create new leaves. Yet, walking down the street in Kyoto it is obvious that each tree along the sidewalk is manicured, cared for, and nurtured to provide beauty. They must be even more beautiful in full bloom later in the year.
- I walk the halls of Nijo Castle dreaming of the Shoguns walking these paths. The nightingale floor squeaks in a mellow tune announcing each quest. The wooden floor has felt so many stocking feet. It has been swept by silk from the bottom hems of kimonos of samarai and shogon. Yet, the cyprus wood is barely worn. So many dreams have passed this way. Like mine, some fulfilled and others destined to remain wisps in our minds.
- A motor coach ride to Nara to visit the eight temples, shrines, and ruins. Walking the pathways of Todai-ji Buddist Temple feeding the tiny tame deer. School children are all over running here and there hand feeding this tiny deer then the next one that butts in to steal a bit of food. A child giggles and reaches for more tidbits in a small bag. The joy and happiness in the eyes a giveaway to the fun they were having.
- Within the temple I stare at a huge statue of Buddha. The sign says it’s the world’s largest Buddha known as Daibutsu. There are stories about how the surrounding people built this magical place. A sense of peace surrounds me as I meander among the gardens even with other visitors are walking with me or standing admiring the craftmanship and artistry. The ride home to Kyoto is filled with smiles and amazed people exchanging excited comments about what they saw and experienced.
- With the new sunrise I walk the nearby streets. I am excited to see everything new, even the city workers, all lined up ready to go to work. All of a sudden they start doing exercises. It looks like some form of Tai Chi or Qi Gong. I had heard that exercises were performed each day before work. Around the corner from the hotel a Roman Catholic Church is having a mass. The service in Japanese. I know what was being said and the rituals being performed because of the masses I have previously attended. It is strange seeing and hearing the mass performed in Japanese. The parishioners are welcoming and kind to a stranger.
- Hungry for a hamburger! Oh yes! On one of my previous walks I had seen a McDonalds. I just have to try it. The menu is of course in Japanese, but I am helped by the pictures of what is being offered next to the Japanese language and price. It tastes better than any burger I have ever had. It was worth every yen I paid for it..
- My time in Kyoto is running out like grains of sands in an hourglass. I am going to hate to see the hourglass turnover and return to the world in which I live. The experiences of Kyoto and Nara have rushed through my finger tips as fast as the grains of sand in the hourglass. I have realize I am basically a shy person in these situations. I am quiet, reserved, observant, and even nervous. These are strange feelings to me. They are good for the ego and id. It is a growing time.
- Regretfully the hourglass turns. I return to my real world in San Jose, CA. I brought back with me cherish memories and have an appreciation of Japanese history and art.
Originally written: April 12, 1997
I combined a business trip with a personal side trip to Kyoto and Nara. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences. Today, I have an Japanese obi, a wedding kimono and a man’s kimono hanging on the walls of my living and dining room. I still have a fascination and appreciation of Japanese culture, history, and art.