Deep Kyoto: Walks - Pico Iyer, Chris Rowthorn, Judith Clancy, John Ashburne, Perrin Lindelauf, John Dougill, Robert Yellin, Stephen Henry Gill

"They say Kyoto is ancient and elegant. And this is true. Sort of. But Kyoto is also a mishmash of architectural madness, from post-war era concrete buildings on up to recent prefabricated monstrosities made of plastic. It’s all over the place aesthetically and I love it. … [E]ventually the whole chaotic collage of the city seeped into my life and work, so I gave up lamenting “progress.”

I am comforted by knowing the city well enough to know where my own private “old” Japan still exists, and also I must say that I have a fondness for urban grunge and the detritus of modern city life. I love the forgotten corners, the less trod paths, unknown buildings stained with the patinas of age and all of the head-turning eclecticism. For me, a lot of the magic lies in the nameless details here that change day to day, and the light as it shifts from season to season. To see all of this stuff for what it is, see what the city continues to become, and accept it all, right alongside the cultural icons here is what makes things all the more interesting. It’s connecting the dots; seeing the continuum between present-day Kyoto, as a functioning, transforming city and it’s romantic past." ––Joel Stuart, “In Praise of Uro Uro”

"I had to acknowledge that I had to come to Japan in order to see that a 7-Eleven here was just as Japanese — as foreign — as any meditation-hall, and no less full of wonder (or even kindness and attention). Sanctity lies not in any object but in the spirit you bring to it." ––Pico Iyer, “Into the Tumult”

These two quotes perfectly encapsulate the spirit of the city I call home, and this collection of eighteen essays from long-time residents are as diverse as Kyoto herself.

This book should not be considered a guidebook. While it is true that there are directions, here and there, on how to find the intimate locations mentioned in Deep Kyoto Walks‘s pages, the true heart of the collection is in the people, and their experiences, both as Outsider Looking In, and Already Through the Looking Glass. A memoir of multiple consciousnesses, readers can expect to be taken into the lifeblood of Kyoto’s real culture, not just the stereotype emblazoned by so many years of postcards painting geisha crossing red-lacquered bridges.

Step into the tsukemono (pickle) shops of Nishiki Market, the mish-mash architectural landscape of Kyoto’s ever-changing streets, ancient forests and mountain trails, shrines with less than peaceful origins, and the many smiles (or scowls) of Kyoto natives.