Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dr. Know

Back in December, Yukio and Amanda and I climbed up to Kyoto's 'left' Daimonjiyama. After some searching, we couldn't find a trail, so we wound up bushwhacking through the forest, out of a children's cemetery. (Always something there to remind me.)

Today's mission was to find the actual trail. With map in hand and a bicycle firmly wedged beneath me, MatsuMiki and I rode counter-clockwise along the road fronting the mountain. We found many amazing things. We found a huge swimming pool. We found a woman singing beautifully in front of a Pure Land temple. We found an artist commune high up a remote road. We found a fast, shallow stream ideal for strolling barefoot. We found (and encouraged) an old woman making her way slowly up a hill way too steep for us to bike. We found an old lodge with baths offering amazing views of the valley. We found a waterfall perfect for birthday suits. We never did find that damn trail.

The best thing we did find was an open gate and a massive garden beyond. At first we thought it was a private residence. But who could afford to own such a huge space? Politician? Movie star? Captain of Industry? Gangster? We walked a little farther in, slightly afraid, half expecting attack dogs (or carp) to be unleashed by some James Bondian villain. Who lived here?
Stepping back outside, we soon found that this was in fact a public garden, attached to an art space we'd passed earlier. Disappointed...

About nine years ago, I was having breakfast in Sapa, near the Vietnamese border with China. I was sharing a table with a middle-aged Vietnamese man who'd fled to the US 30-some years before. He was back in country for the first time and was especially excited that morning because he was going to see the woman who he'd dated as young man, not long before his emigrating. He left the table almost whistling. That night however, his face took a different hue. Over beers, he told me of his day, of his encounter with his long ago lover, how she'd aged and how the long years of war had left not a single part of her former beauty. Taking the American vernacular, he said, "Some mysteries are best left unsolved."

On the turntable: Tao, "The Martial Art of Noise"
On the nighttable: Larry Watson, "Montana 1948"

1 comment:

jh said...

Thanks for the Pollack help on my blog, Ted.

Enjoyed reading yours, and I recognise most of the places you mention in this entry. I used to live just a stone's throw from the swimming pool you mention. The road you walked was my bicycle commute to work. A great commute if ever there was one.