What’s there to say about Kyoto that hasn’t already been said :)? It’s paradise – utter paradise, during the cherry blossom season. And I am sure that the paradise still remains after all the cherry trees have lost their blossoms!
The hustle and bustle of the fish market early in the morning was impressive. Everyone was driving these electric carts, very closely resembling a golf cart without a top, loaded with fresh fish, herbs and vegetables on their way to be delivered to their customer.
“This place was a liability, with signs no one can read, people shouting, carts honking, and no proper lanes for pedestrians to follow, it was surprising to see no one got hurt. But what a sight. Once we got away from the busy entrance and continued to make our way into the market it started to dawn on me that I would have a field day photographing this beautiful energy. They say that when you get lost capturing a specific moment or feeling through the lens of a camera it somehow takes you away from being present and enjoying your surroundings. I personally disagree, if anything I was more alert to the presence of a man chiselling away at a frozen tuna the size of a small car. It made me alert to this man’s relationship to the knife as it pounded the iced tuna. Zooming in on the rubber boots at this particular moment grounded me and allowed me to make sense of all the chaos in the fish market”.
“the landscape from up above intrigued me and gave me immediately a sense of purpose. When the plane landed I was drawn in to the speech patterns I heard all around me and the sweet faces of the Japanese people. Their very controlled gestures were polite and very positive. As we rushed to the train to make our way to our hotel, I began to feel overwhelmed and my body became heavy from the long haul to Tokyo. Standing in the correct lineup waiting for our train I started to realize how immaculate everything was, and this was further confirmed when the train pulled in and a crew of cleaners appeared to thoroughly scrub the train and turn each of the revolving seats so that they would face the direction the train would be taking. I sunk into my seat and was battling desperately with my eyes shutting. I wanted to take it all in. The train ride was uneventful but what I did notice was that although there were numerous Japanese babies on board there was complete silence. Not one baby cried; they were all content being held tightly in their respective mother’s arms, and I can’t lie, so was I. It was around 9am that we finally arrive at our hotel, checked in and realized we had to wait for our room until 2pm so out we went to explore the surroundings. The weather – gently warm with a bit of a breeze – was just enough to keep me awake. It did not take very long for me to feel like a tiny ant among giant city skyscrapers uniquely shaped to fit a range of talented architects’ ideas of what the city should look like. It was impressive! I stood and watched as the Japanese people, cars, bikes, buses went about their business like these tall creatures did not exist. To me the city felt heavy and shady from these tall structures but I stood there admiring them. Walking up and down these streets I started to feel dizzy and being up for more than 24 hours straight did not help my mental state at all. Back at the hotel however, we were rewarded with a high up, albeit tiny, room with panoramic views even from the bathroom. After a long bath overlooking the city and a nap I was hungry. We wanted a local experience. Japanese soul food was what our hearts desired, so we walked into a restaurant that fit very much the local criteria. But: we were turned away, something about no tourists. Damn it. Our hunt led us into a very small restaurant with paper-thin windows and charming bamboo sliding doors. The chef cooking waved us in, an old woman took our coats hung them on the wall and proceeded to gesture for us to sit down at the only two seats that were available around the chef’s cooking area. We looked around and saw only locals and we soon started to realize no one spoke an ounce of English. We pointed at the dishes our neighbours were enjoying and received a nod. Minutes later a soup arrive with lots of umami and Japanese mushrooms, four different kinds of pickled (something), a beef skewer, and a warm sake. The soup was, well, AMAZING! The broth was delicious! The pickled somethings were perfectly matched to the taste of the grilled skewer and let’s just say the sake was the best I have had. Still, I couldn’t help feeling ripped off when I was handed my jacket, and walking out I thought, “huh, how could that cost €70?” I considered that meal to be our tourist fees into the country and left it at that. Rightfully so, because it would turn out that would be the most expensive meal in Tokyo.”