Japan

Sayonara, Kyoto!

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Welcome to Tachibana-san’s lovely garden home in Kyoto, Japan! She opened her doors to me when I was just 18 years old, inviting me to stay with her and her cat Shima-chan. She gently pushed me when I was prone to getting lost, helping me come up with strategy for returning home. I learned to explore the city alone on a bicycle with a small map in hand, making friends with monks and solitary travelers along the way.

After all these years, it was wonderful to be able to return to the place I once called home. I arrived from Kobe by evening, walking past the garden in the shadows. The next morning I woke up in the second floor bedroom, laid my feet on the warm tatami mat, and peered out the windows onto the mountains. I walked downstairs for breakfast and tea, and watched Shima-chan nap by the windows. We packed our cameras, put on walking shoes, and headed out for a stroll around the neighborhood.

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“Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, at the moon only when it is cloudless? The moon that appears close to dawn after we have long waited for it moves us more profoundly than the full moon shining cloudless over a thousand leagues. And how incomparably lovely is the moon, almost greenish in its light, when seen through the tops of the cedars deep in the mountains, or when it hides for a moment behind clustering clouds during a sudden shower! The sparkle on hickory or white-oak leaves seemingly wet with moonlight strikes one to the heart. One suddenly misses the capital, longing for a friend who could share the moment.” – An excerpt from Essays in Idleness by Kenkō

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That summer must have stirred something within Tachibana-san, too. I was astonished to find out she had started studying Korean history and language. We were able to make a small conversation in Korean while looking for a teashop in Gion. She remains just as adventurous as ever, chatting about her travels and an upcoming trip to a tiny island community.

I hope to see her again soon, perhaps here in California!

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Fenne
    December 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    such a lovelyblogpost and photographs and an adorable spoon :-)
    and is that ice with the noodles?

    • Reply
      Sewon
      December 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

      Thank you, and yes! We were keeping the noodles chilled with ice cubes. 😛

  • Reply
    Winnie (@diamondcanopy)
    December 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Fantastic pictures – I’m sure it was a lovely experience to go back there – reunited with familiarities from years ago! I love the look of that coffee with the tiny cup of milk, how adorable!!

    • Reply
      Sewon
      December 19, 2013 at 10:42 am

      It’s one of my favorite things about traveling/moving so much–knowing that there are homes and communities all around the world. :) I’m sure you know all about this, too!

  • Reply
    Liz Fang
    December 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Ah I love hearing your stories and seeing your adventures – I really admire your ability to travel and make connections with people! These must have been taken awhile back right? It’s probably getting pretty cold in Japan.

    • Reply
      Sewon
      December 19, 2013 at 10:43 am

      Thank you, Liz! These are from the early days of autumn, as you can see with the leaves only just starting to change color. :)

  • Reply
    Crystal
    December 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I love this story! :)

    • Reply
      Sewon
      December 19, 2013 at 10:43 am

      Thanks, Crystal! :)

  • Reply
    Rina
    December 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Aww, what a beautiful story! Tachibana-san seems like a wonderful person, she was probably so happy to reconnect with you after so many years. Your pictures really bring back such wonderful memories of my summer in Kyoto. So nostalgic~
    mmm, is that zaru udon? perfect for those hot Japanese summers!
    oh, and I love the new layout Sewon! So cute! ♥♥

    • Reply
      Sewon
      December 19, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Yay, I’ve been working on the layout very slowly. Thank you for your kind words! ♥

  • Reply
    Angélica
    December 19, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Lovely post, what a lovely story and pictures!
    And I can’t get over how cute that tiny can of milk is haha!
    Random but I think you look so cute! 😀

    • Reply
      Sewon
      December 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

      I was thinking I kind of look like a kid! 😛 Thanks, Angelica!

  • Reply
    Jane Y.
    December 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

    what a lovely home. tachibana-san sounds like a wonderful, beautiful soul. and neko chan is so cute too. always enjoy seeing your photos.

  • Reply
    Emilie B.
    December 23, 2013 at 7:30 am

    oh my god, these might be your most amazing pictures ever… everything is so pretty and breathtakingly beautiful !

  • Reply
    Koey
    January 11, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Sewon, I really enjoy reading about your adventures! And, I love your simple life in this lovely place. You are so lucky to know Tachibana-san~
    To me, an adventurer is not someone who dare to do dangerous activities, but brave enough to go into completely unfamiliar places, explore the places and understand the culture inside patiently. So I think you are a real adventurer and truly admire you!

    Last but not least, wish you have a happy new year!
    :)

  • Reply
    Trixia
    February 17, 2014 at 7:11 am

    You have a knack for storytelling, loved reading about your stay with Tachibana-san. She sounds as lovely as her house looks!

  • Reply
    shershegoescom
    March 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

    oh what lovely kyoto pictures! your images bring me back to my own trip to japan two summers ago. i loved the visit and hope to go back to visit someday

    Sher
    http://www.shershegoes.com

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