Oh my golly.

December 31, 2007

Well well well. I guess it’s about f ‘ ing time I got around to this. It’s been a mighty busy and wonderful fall, and now winter has come around and I’m finally starting to settle in a little and relax in my new home. First I’d like to try and give you all a lightning summary of what’s been happening. Ready, set, go…I finished working at K’s School the same week the largest English school chain in Japan completely collapsed, displacing hundreds of fair foreigners to circle the market like hungry sharks. Instead of scrambling to beat the crowd to what jobs may have been I went on an obligatory nine day cycling tour of Kyushu island. Absolutely fantastic, but more on that later. Since arriving in Kyoto I’ve been very assiduous in my job hunting, even taking on a two day stint as Santa (see the picture below), and now I’ve finally picked up enough steady work to get by. Along with work I’ve also found a wonderful woman named Yuki to spend my time with who I met and train with at Aikido Kyoto. For the first month and a half here I lived in a dinjy and overpriced shared apartment in the center of town, and in mid-December I moved to a nice spacious house with two Japanese folks in a quiet Northeast Kyoto neighborhood right at the foot of the mountain ridge that constitutes the eastern border of the city. It’s in the vicinity of Kyoto University and the University of Art and Design, so there’s actually a lot going on here despite the distance from the town center.

Since I came to Kyoto I’ve been real poor but I don’t mind all that much because my life is full and the only thing I’m really lacking is tread on my bike tires. Just riding around is greatly rewarding because the place is steeped in history and just around every corner there’s some funky old temple with crumbling walls or a liquor store that’s been selling cheer for fourteen generations. I came just as the ginko and maple trees started turning yellow and orange and red and the migrating water foul were stopping in at the Kamo River to watch the fat Western tourists look confused. Christmas went by not unnoticed and now that the new year is approaching things are finally settling down. In Japan the new year is an important time to spend with family and the entire country shuts down for the first week of the year. The Japanese way of thinking is that the new year is a time of new beginnings, and so it’s very important to make everything nice and tidy by tying up all loose ends before Auld Land Syne starts to play. And here I am with some welcome free time on my hands to hang some pictures I’ve snapped with my cell phone over the past few months.

kyotokeitaimontage.jpg

And so, let’s give a brief bit about each as if we’re reading a book: riding in rush hour traffic near Shijo-Karasuma; fiery crisp maple meets the Budo center amid a clear blue sky; here comes Santa Clause; PUBLIC TOILET DOES NOT EQUAL ASHTRAY; No bicycles or vegetable carts allowed on Shijo-dori; breakdancing at Omiya Station in December; Sleeping people on a train (“comb-over” = “barcode” in Japanese); alley in a geisha row near Gojo-dori; shrine in the Shijo shopping arcade; ginko and maple leaves at Nanzen-ji Temple; a fat cop on a granny bike on Horikawa-dori; a windmill in the suburbs; the modest gate at Shisen-do in my new neighborhood; window display at a Chinese medicine shop; a handbook of..?; tan tan tannuki no kintama wa, kaze no fukarete bura bura…

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