Friday, January 07, 2005

down to Kyoto at lightspeed
Aymen and I jumped onto the bullet train on Tuesday morning after it's steaming nostrils and sharknosed face hummed menacingly up the platform. It whipped us off to Kyoto so fast that all the 300 km imbetween were just a splodgey hazy blur seen from our windows.

When I was here I lived in Saitama, the suburbs of northern Tokyo. Nothing but buildings and roads and railways dumped like lego bricks onto the Kanto plain, stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction. No trees, no parks, no culture. Just grey buildings and shops covered in neon and noise.

Kyoto makes Japan feel like a real country for me. This ancient capital houses the country's infinitely rich cultural heritage, and frames it within the bounds of a foresty green valley. The contrast of Japan's historical spiritual depth and refined aesthetic beauty with the modernity and technological power of modern Japan is so sharp it could cut diamonds. It's the factor that makes this country so infinitely fascinating.

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