A brief encounter with Kyoto

Towering bamboo forests, a thousand bright vermillion Shinto gates, glowing intimate dining rooms reflecting on the canal on a stolen walk at night and discreet, and shuttered entrances which hinted at geishas and an exotic underworld. Zen gardens with trickling water features, lush green trees on the turn, blue skies and stone foxes. Hot, sticky, fried food, bean-paste sweets and grilled pork/octopus/sweet corn with chunky sweet potato chips dipped in sugar.

A rusty and forgotten playground in faded pastels, perfect for discovering lots of ‘treasures’ (tiny plastic balls, a tiny red bow, a sticker packet and two coffee beans). An abandoned playground sandwiched between two train lines, offering one little train enthusiast a lot of excitement. Two sets of adult legs, swinging up to the sunset. A bustling playground with four slides (!) and teeming with nursery groups in bright baseball caps whilst dolphins fly in the air behind.

Tiny shops filled with bright kimonos, delicate ceramics, exquisitely wrapped sweet delicacies and trinkets. Dusty storefronts displaying electric parts, tiles, lightbulbs and paper fans.

A vintage store stuffed with old kimonos, sparkly jewellery, wood blocks, tin adverts, geisha dolls and lanterns. A bookshop cafe, cool and aloof. A concrete and wood cafe serving freshly baked walnut muffins and strong coffee, and offering a haven for our morning routine.

Bikes, weaving their way between pedestrians and cars with no room for any of them. Buses with no room for buggies and feeling awkward but met every time by friendly, adoring, elderly fans of little M who made the journeys bearable. People. Lots of people.

Kyoto. We only glimpsed you, in the day time and with the dulcet tones of children in our ears. We loved you but there is so much more we want to know and taste. We need to come back.

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