Sunday, May 3, 2015

Deep Kyoto Walks

The editors of the new e-book Deep Kyoto Walks subscribe to one of my basic tenets, ie that the best way to learn about somewhere is to get out and explore on foot. They have collected together 20 walks around the former capital Kyoto and its vicinity. It is no mere guidebook though. The 16 writers are, with a couple of exceptions, non-Japanese who, by chance or design, have made Kyoto their home. I haven't done the math, but for sure their collective experience of the city must be at least  200 years. With 16 different writers you get a mixed bag of concerns. Some focus on history, some on nature, some on food, and a few do include some of the  well known tourist attractions, but they are all very personal walks, so  it is as if you have your own personal guide along with you pointing out things you may not notice or that locals would take for granted and not mention to you. Some of the writers will appeal to you more than others. From some of the pages there is a distinct odor ( I would not go so far as to use the word "stink") of Zen, and there is a bit of pretentiousness to some, though to be fair it would be hard to write about Kyoto without pretentiousness as the city was founded on the pretensions of the rulers and has been fueled by the pretensions of its inhabitants ever since, especially since the capital moved to Tokyo. The focus of the walks and the styles of the writing are varied enough that everybody should find more than enough interesting and enlightening. My own personal favorite was the piece by Michael lambe whose walk delved into some of the more modern history of Kyoto. Each walk has enough detail to be easily followed but each also has its own map. I would recommend the book to anyone planning on visiting Kyoto, anyone who plans to revisit Kyoto, and even anyone who doesn't plan to visit.

1 comment:

  1. «..and even anyone who doesn't plan to visit.»
    It's my case...
    Thank you