Monday, October 10, 2005

Kyoto: Slight Return

Drove to Kyoto for the first time. Dense clouds had settled on the 'Nog, and whipping along the fog-shrouded treetops of the Yonago Expressway, I felt like I was moving through Borneo. At 105 kph, the dashboard began to "ping!" and with those pings and the claustrophobic whiteness, I suddenly became a submarine commander. Irritation created by the incessant pinging can be overcome by turning the stereo up to 11 and caterwauling along to Paul Weller.

It takes 4 hours to make it to Kyoto by bus. I did the trip in 2 1/2. It wasn't that I was speeding so much as the music drove me forward. Once in the city, I was amazed at how different things look by car. On the bus, you're looking sideways essentially, and the eye deals with smaller details like sidewalk pedestrian traffic and the temples, shops, or homes beyond. Looking straight through the windshield of a car, you get a larger overview, and taken on this scale, you realize that Kyoto is in many ways, a pretty ugly place. The beauty of the trees hides the ugliness of the forest.

In the afternoon, on the east side, I met Eric (of E-Ma and Kyoto Journal) at Buttercups for taco rice and much needed caffeine. We had an interesting chat about upcoming issues now brewing at KJ. He's just back from a trip to the US, accompanying one of his Hanazono profs for a tour of private collections of Japanese art. I envy the fact that he has experienced beauty that the rest of us will never see.
Later, on the west side, Anna S. and I went to her local for beer, sake, and the wonder that is chijimi. Upon learning of my profession, the mama-san did yoga poses in between refilling our glasses. We talked about the Japanese national team's soccer match, held earlier that night. The mama-san said it had been against Uraguay, a bar patron said Ukraine, and the newspaper later said Latvia. The fog had moved inward...

Speaking of soccer, I'm reading a terrific book called, "How Soccer Explains the World." It tries to define globalization in terms of the game and its supporters. I highly recommend it to fans of the sport, or to those with a passing interest. If you can understand why the Japanese call the game "soccer", yet have formed the JFA, or Japanese "Football" Association, you know more about the game than anyone and have no need for this book.

On the turntable: Jim White, "Drill a Hole in that Substrate and Tell Me What You See."
On the nightable: Franklin Foer, "How Soccer Explains the World"

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