My love/hate relationship with Kyoto


What is it about the place?  Why does everybody love it so much? 

Unlike most people in western Japan, I only visit once every couple of years, usually after being dragged kicking and screaming by friends who assure me that I haven’t seen the real place yet.  Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan, is less than an hour away from Kobe, but I almost never go there.  I can’t say why, but I guess I have a kind of reluctance about going anywhere that has been officially sanctioned by the United Nations as a “must-see” site for over-fed tourists and/or has appeared as an exotic backdrop to any cheesy Hollywood movie about geisha.  I don’t want to waste my time with places like that.  And I don’t even like temples that much.

On the other hand, when I do visit – like today – I see such sights that make me sigh, cry, praise the gods, and swear that I want to move there.  Honestly speaking, I think that there is nothing like Kyoto in this world.  It’s that beautiful, and that spiritual.  Every time I go, I find something new, both about the city and about myself.  I fantasise about simply staying on, and never going home … or even moving with Benbeam, kit and kaboodle, to start a new life there.  That’s the power of Kyoto.

However, at the end of the day, when I finally get off the express train at Kobe and head for my tiny apartment with my bags of souvenirs and a throbbing headache, I feel extremely happy to be home, away from the crowds of tourists and street touts, and even happier if I never hear the words “Golden Pavillion” ever again.  I always swear never to go back to Kyoto ever again … but I do.

It’s simply irresistable.  Once you’ve caught the Kyoto bug, you never really lose it.


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