This Tuesday’s presentation will provide some insight into the life of a Westerner (me) who has been working at Kyoto University in Japan for several months.
Kyoto is a little cooler now, but still warm.
I’ve spent a lot of my life in the Netherlands and Belgium, both basically bike-friendly countries.
But Kyoto is undoubtedly the best among them.
The main roads are mostly filled with parked cars, while outside the roads are a maze of small back streets with almost no traffic.
Additionally, if you live on the east side of the city, the north-south adventure can be accomplished by riding along both sides of the Kamo River, and if north of Demachi Gargani, you can also choose to follow the Koya River’s turnoff for some kilometers. .
This system makes the city very safe and accessible by bicycle.
One night I rode a few kilometers through the city (mostly east to west and back) to an event and, other than crossing a few major roads at red lights, I didn’t encounter any traffic.
As far as I know, no major city has achieved this level of urban mobility.
But I ran into some access issues while walking to the store this morning, as shown by this sign:
It tells readers that there are steep pedestrian-only stairs in front, which were built privately by the owner at a huge expense to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
It also says that if you are involved in an accident while riding your bike, the rider is responsible and may be asked to pay for the repairs.
I thought about the hill to the left of this sign and wondered why anyone would try to climb the stairs on a bike.
Suffice to say, Kyoto has plenty of warning signs about various dangers and penalties.
Shortly after passing this sign, I was driving along the big mountain route that is part of Yoshidayama Park (Yoshidayama Park) and found a sign in the dense jungle near the top that said “We are watching you, so please do not dump illegally” Rubbish”.
I can’t see any cameras, but I wonder why someone would climb to the top of a mountain to dump trash illegally.
Lots of signs!
I love finding small shops that sell wood products.
Japan’s handicraft industry is outstanding and they make beautifully carved wooden objects such as bowls and cups.
I came across this example today when I was out buying donuts.
These cups are made by Fuqugi in the mountains of Kagoshima Prefecture (in the south of the country).
The cups are hand-carved from Yoshino cedar, which grows in the Yoshino region south of Nara (an ancient capital near Kyoto).
The forest is densely populated with trees, so they grow tall and slender, but also very straight.
As they grow, the grain of the wood reflects the seasons: so in spring and summer, during the growth phase, the grain is lighter, then in autumn and winter the grain is darker.
As a result, you can get a very unique pattern on the wood, making it very beautiful when carved.
After about 100 years, the trees are harvested.
Traditionally they are used to line sake barrels.
It is a very soft wood.
Regardless, I love the woodwork here, coming from someone who struggled with straight sawing.
As for the donuts – my favorite local bakery near where I live in Kyoto – makes the most delicious (oishii) donuts, but usually when I walk over from work at lunchtime to buy sweet Donuts, they were sold out.
I had to go somewhere before work today, so I planned a route that would take me past that store and get a cinnamon donut – the best.
That’s enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2023 William Mitchell. all rights reserved.