Finished wwoofing, I am now in Kyoto spending a week happily doing non-tourist activities. Emptying my days of plans, I wander around the city and let serendipity provide for me 😉 The odd thing is that it works; I have been pulled into a martial arts display by the central city Kamo river, watching awesome dances with swords, fans, long spears to the sound of rhythmic music, rushing water and ravens. Sat by a willow tree river with my toes in the water, singing softly to the warm afternoon in general when some random japanese guy on a bike stopped to say “good morning”, give me an orange and peddle away. Relaxed on tatatmi mats in an immense wooden buddhist temple when a ceremony starts complete with incense, huge candles and monks performing “nembetsu” chanting. Joined in with a late night underground basement dancing, to DJ trance-esq sound mixed with live congo tribal beats.
My journey will be at an end soon, and it strikes me how hard it will be to bring the experience back to share. This whole land has a different feel to it, and I have adjusted to aspects of it which will no doubt give me odd culture shock when I return. Not just for the simple lines and colours of a traditional japanese room, the openesss of sleeping on the floor, eating with chopsticks and so on – the human element. By virtue perhaps of both my nature and the rural work I’ve been doing here, I have found myself growing attached to the landscape, the soil, the scent of the air, the wind that picks up before typhoons, *mountains*, animals, insects even.
My image of Japan before I came here was the crazy blade-runner neon of Tokyo, and some old wooden temple. Perhaps the classic image of a bullet train speeding in front of mt fuji. Now I think of yellow-green rice fields, with school girls cycling home on the straight roads between them. I think of an infinite range of sunsets over the moutains. Standing on top of a ladder in the middle of apple trees, watching white birds flocking to a backdrop of dark green pyramids of trees. Seeing the full moon rising over black silohuette, bats flying around me in chaotic dances. Travelling through road tunnels that stretched 5km at a time, with brief snatches of intense scrambled forbidding moutain forests, waterfalls, rushing water, in between the next tunnel.
no..I cant really get it into words, what I have been in here has been so totally unlike anything back in UK. I mentioned before that there is a feeling of security, enclosure, the-world-stops-over-that mountain that comes with these cities and agriculture nestled in the flat spaces between. Also a continual awareness of natures power – from the violence of earthquakes, tsnamis and wind to the verdancy, amazing quick growth of crops (and weeds) and the massive size reached by some of the leaves here.
It is feelings like this which make an interesting theory I found today, of a link between landscape and various attitudes (in medicine, religion even) so much more compelling.. I’ve typed out an extract below; I am interested in health and culture, but this is not an angle I’d come across before. Would be interested in any opinions!
Nature:Obedience in the East and Manipulation in the West