Kyoto’s vibe as a city is imposing, isolating, a little lonely, and yet cloaked in curiosity. The City was the home of the emperor until the Meiji Restoration, but during the time before the Meiji it was like the emperor, ceremonial but functionally unimportant. Unlike Kyoto, Tokyo, and Yokohama, the city was not all that important during world war two, no major manufacturing plants were built, no bases stood imposing, the city was simply a quiet place in a sea of turmoil.
One of the distinct advantages to this arrangement of relative un-importance, was that the city was left largely intact after world war 2. Buildings some of them hundreds of years old still stand in Kyoto. There are shrines, and parks beyond counting.
The city as such maintains its attitude of Imperiality. The royal power seems to seep through the pores of the city. The nature of the buildings here is shorter, flatter, and more reclusive. The privacy unavailable in other cities of Japan seems to flourish here.
I found another rarity. While most local governments are quietly removing them there still exist beer vending machines on the street. It seems change is slow to come to Kyoto, even now.
The long driveways at first seem out of place in the city, but then as you walk along the nicer neighborhoods, you realize that these driveways, which could easily fit a house or two in them, are a subtle showing of wealth, and power.
Traditional style Japanese artiecture is quite common in Kyoto. For a city that seems so serious, however, there are a few bright happy spots. During my time in Kyoto, I visited the Manga museum!
When I finally left the museum, which is a lovely place to while away the hours, and full of Gaijin like myself, it was night out and the city seemed, unlike Tokyo, quite content to turn in early.
My stomach rumbling, I stopped off at what I can only describe as a supermarket without produce. While I seem to have lost them at the moment, I found bottles of Jack Daniels that were at least two gallons. As I crept through the streets of Kyoto a certain timeless quailty gripped me, and I imagined it hundreds of years ago when nobles and samurai met in private restuarnts and discussed the day’s polotics. Sleepiness had me now and so I settled back to my hotel room, excited to venture to Gion, a very well preserved section of Kyoto.
The view of the hotel overlooked a school, even now at 9 o’clock the students practiced Martial arts, and I watched them as I drifted in and out of consciousness, wondering what it’d be like to grow up and such an imposing place.