Kyoto Syndrome

You’ve heard of “Paris Syndrome?” Often exhibited by the Japanese, it is a condition of anxiety bordering on hysteria upon realizing they have fallen prey to an extreme case of false advertising. Far from the romantic image portrayed in “An American in Paris” and glamorous Chanel advertisements, the grittier realities of a loud, grimy, and often rude Paris leave the tourist feeling betrayed, confused, and reeling from an enormous case of culture shock.

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We’ve all felt this to one degree or another, haven’t we? My first keen disappointment in travel was a summer trip to Cape Cod many years ago. Living in Massachusetts, all one hears is: “Going down the Cape this weekend?” “Gotta leave early and beat the bridge traffic.” “Awesome trip to the Cape!” Even though our family had a sweet little cottage on Plum Island off the North Shore, one always had the suspicion it was the redheaded stepchild of vacation spots. The really great place to be was the Cape. Had to be, right? Everybody said so.

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And so we ventured “down the Cape” giddy with expectations. Much like the Japanese tourist assaulted by Parisian smells in the Metro station, our bubble was burst immediately. Our rented cottage was fine, but in a location where even a simple trip to get milk resulted in 45 minutes trapped in summer traffic. The beaches teemed with people. The restaurants overflowed onto the outside decks. The stores were full of ticky-tacky tourist merchandise. I wanted to go home.

That was years ago and I’ve become cynical enough now to expect that the best-selling novel I simply must read will almost certainly be hurled onto the metaphorical kindling pile because it is the Worst Piece of Dreck Ever Written.

The restaurant which simply must be visited for the next special occasion dinner served stale bread, cold coffee and warm champagne. Paris Syndrome abounds.

But hope springs eternal even in my lentil of a heart which was beating pitty-pat as our plane touched down in Japan. At last.

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Far from a comprehensive travel guide, I give you only the impressions gained from four days in Kyoto, an ancient city which served as Japan’s capital for 1000 years. Weeks after returning home, I’ve recovered from jet lag but not from the sensory overload of a culture so different from my own. Simply put, Japan is a nation of attention to the smallest detail which I know now appeals to every fiber of my being.

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Photographers urge us to look up. I would tell you to do the opposite in Japan.

Not that looking up could possibly prove a disappointment:

The Japanese are genius at combining beauty and utility as shown in this array of artful fences. Why not make them as beautiful as the garden they contain? Why not make everything in our lives as pleasing to the senses as we can?

But enough of flooring and fences. What about food? If a fence is given special care, you can imagine how important a meal is. As the waiter placed an assortment of salts each with a specific purpose on our table, I knew I was in for a treat. This one for seafood, perhaps? This one for your beef? Oh yes, please.  Food is celebrated here, meticulously prepared and served. The experience is the very definition of dining. No server named Jared loomed over our table mid-meal to inquire if “you guys” are still “working” on that meal. The horror!

It was William Morris who said famously “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  I can’t help wondering if he ever visited Japan because that ideal is deeply ingrained in every aspect of the Japanese design aesthetic.

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To my Western eye, accustomed to piles of books and other lovely clutter, it felt spare and a bit cold at first. But gradually I sank into the “less is more” aesthetic and began to appreciate the tiny details of the few things in the room. A sumptuous fabric. A delicately glazed pot. An exquisitely trained bonsai. The smell of sandalwood.

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The only place I found clutter (and a heavenly clutter it was!) was in a second-hand bookstore. I am here to say that no matter where you are in the world, it seems used bookstores all smell the same!

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And the books themselves! Oh my. Buttery soft paper and exquisite illustrations proved absolutely irresistible to me. Let me show you just two of the books now safely ensconced in Virginia. These are serialized romance novels, each perfect little books on their own, but to my amazement I saw that their covers join to form one image! I couldn’t communicate well enough with the shop owner to find out if a third or fourth book in the series would continue the size of the image, but let’s just assume they would.

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There is a condition I dub Kyoto Syndrome. One in which the reality far exceeds the expectation. One where you find yourself transported into a culture so different from your own that your outlook is forever changed. I may never return to this enchanted part of the world, but I’ll carry a piece of it with me forever.

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Suffering from an acute case of Kyoto Syndrome

Did you know that Kyoto was on the target list for the atomic bomb along with Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Secretary of War Henry S. Stimson had it removed in no small part because he had spent his honeymoon there. It seems an enduring case of Kyoto Syndrome proved miraculous indeed for the residents of this ancient city.

Oh, just one more thing. In the intervening years, I’ve learned the Cape does have its abundant charms. It’s important not to let Paris Syndrome close your mind to second chances.

Thanks for reading,

Barbara

About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
This entry was posted in Books, Food, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

126 Responses to Kyoto Syndrome

  1. dorannrule says:

    Oh, WELCOME HOME Barbara! You have been sorely missed. And thank you so much for this lovely tour of Kyoto. I know I would have taken the whole tray of chocolates and looked up instead of down, but both perspectives are so lovely in your photographs. I have the feeling you have returned home slightly altered by all that tranquility and quiet beauty. Can’t wait to read more and see more. 🙂 ~Dor

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    • Good morning, Dor, and thank you so much. The smile on my face in the chocolates photo was before I realized we were to pick only two. It was quickly replaced by a scowl. Hope all is well for you in your lovely corner of our state. XX

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  2. John says:

    What a beautiful city! Japanese culture seems to make western culture appear boring?

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  3. Wendy says:

    Great points – great post! (please excuse the rushed comment – afraid it’s the better-than-nothing, best I can manage today).

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  4. Welcome back! It looks and sounds so utterly fabulous! Thank you for letting me travel vicariously. Beautiful pictures.

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  5. You may remember my great love of Japan and its culture Barbara, so that will give you an idea of the thrill I am feeling now just reading your wonderful post. Your photographs are outstanding, and as each one unfolded I felt a swelling of the heart. It was like a “take-a-breathe moment. Thanks you so much for the journey. My actual journeys may be over, but it’s wonderful that new people take them and love the same places I have loved.

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    • I feel a swelling of the heart reading your lovely message, Kayti. It’s so hard to put into words what it is about Japan that reaches out and grabs one, but those of us who have experienced it understand one another, I think. I am so happy you enjoyed this post.

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  6. I spent a week in Kyoto when I was a teenager, many years ago, and I suspect that it is a timeless place. Your beautiful photographs brought back happy memories, including a temple that has what I imagine is the greatest expance of cultivated moss in the world — a full lawn of perfect moss!

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    • Were your ears burning a bit, Mark? Guess who I had the pleasure of meeting during the Taiwan phase of my trip? Our mutual friend, Jim, of Parnassus fame. We met for tea and agreed that your blog is one of our favorites. I haven’t tiptoed into the blogosphere for weeks and weeks and must get over to your place and see what is happening with Pompeii. Best regards.

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  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    What a wonderful trip this must’ve been! I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. Maybe someday. And I love the idea of ‘less is more’ decor. I’m not one for clutter, and I feel antsy when there’s too much of it. Sounds like I’d do well in Japan. 🙂

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    • Hello Carrie, it does sound as though Japan is just your cup of “cha”, design-wise. When there are fewer things, the ones in the room take on a heightened importance, I think. My husband in particular was enamored by the look and feel of the Japanese rooms. Maybe our eventual retirement space will be decorated in a more zen-like style.

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  8. ritaroberts says:

    Welcome back Barbara. We have all been waiting to hear about your fabulous trip. What a beautiful place. I can see from these wonderful photo’s that you really enjoyed it. Loved the book store, and the book you bought looks a little treasure. Everywhere looks so clean and fresh. It goes without saying that I have always loved the Japanese, also the Chinese culture and their art. Looking forward to your next post because they are always interesting. Thanks for sharing your holiday with us.

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    • Hello dear Rita. I so appreciate your kind words and am very pleased that you enjoyed the photos of Kyoto. I wish I could transmit the tastes, smells, and sounds as well but we’ll have to let the photos suffice. By the way, Max did well during our trip – friends kept him spoiled rotten and even took him for boat rides!

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  9. Dianna says:

    I’m glad you had an enjoyable trip to Japan. And smiled when I read your closing remark about Cape Cod. We visited there a few years ago, and had a great time! Interesting fact about how Kyoto came to be spared from the bomb.

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  10. Behind the Story says:

    I spent a few days in Kyoto some years ago and found it not nearly long enough. I also love the Japanese aesthetic attention to detail and simplicity. I’ll have to remember that William Morris quote: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I was already thinking of doing a little closet cleaning next week.

    I’ve also experienced “Paris Syndrome”, in Paris. My first disappointment was a waiter telling a man sitting at a sidewalk table sipping his coffee and reading that he was taking too long. That wasn’t my idealized expectation of a Paris sidewalk cafe.

    I also found parts of the Caribbean disappointing for their crowds and tacky shops on my first trip there. “Paris Syndrome.”

    Welcome back.

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    • It’s been my experience in travel that the places I least expected something from often delivered the most memorable and enjoyable experiences. I’ve never been to Paris but will go with a more realistic set of expectations than the naive Japanese tourist expecting to see beret-wearing bicyclists with baguettes under their arm. Sooo agree about the Caribbean. So overrun with tourism, I wonder whether the real thing exists any more. Thank you.

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  11. Delighted to hear of Kyoto syndrome! That’s what travel should bring…more delight than we could have reasonably have expected…. and from your post that is exactly what happened for you.
    I shall tuck the phrase away for when a similar experience reveals itself to me.
    Clearly you have had a marvelous trip – and I hope that you do return to reinforce the experience.

    I’m still laughing at the image of ‘Jared’ and his enquiry….we had a near Jared experience in Nicaragua and now I know how to label it.

    How I agree with the Morris quote – but it hasn’t led to decluttering in any of our establishments…more use and beauty is more use and beauty even if we’re wading knee deep to get through all the said use and beauty to fed the dogs, so the less is more does not work for me. One exquisite piece of fabric? Let me have the roll!

    When younger I knew two elderly sisters who lived in a Jacobean country house….they took in any needy animal and those animals had their place on the antique sofas, beds and chairs, while Ming bowls, among other precious items, were used for feeding. To those two ladies the furniture, the bowls and the animals were all part of a cycle of love and beauty and I suppose that I respond more to that than to the careful placing of one item.

    Won;t stop me from having – thanks to you – the Kyoto syndrome , though!

    So pleased to see you back in the blogosphere.

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    • Good morning, Helen. The picture you paint of the two elderly sisters delights me more than you can imagine. It is a Jekyll-san and Hyde persona that I inhabit. I see and appreciate the beauty of both environments. What you describe evokes thoughts of a winter afternoon, snuggling on the sofa with a good book, and something good bubbling on the stove. The Japanese rooms brought a sense of calm and serenity especially after a frenzied day of travel. I hope all is well in Costa Rica and hope to be able to catch up just a bit with your activities via your blog. I am very curious how the new dogs are doing. By the way, the animal rescue organization we used to volunteer for is now defunct, so we have signed up with a new group. Perhaps a foster pup or two will be at Rosedon soon much to Max’s delight.

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      • You are more versatile than me….my room in the hall of residence at university was distinctly less is more….it must have inoculated me against sparseness for life.

        Foster pups! How lovely! A ‘present’ for Max for being so tolerant as to allow you to make the trip.

        Our two are still very much pups in their behaviour….one moment charging through the house like stampeding rhinos carrying with them garden chairs on their backs like howdahs….the next fast asleep and snoring to wake the dead….when they are not ‘singing’ along with counter tenors…

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  12. Oh, the books! Certainly proof that “So different yet so much the same.”
    ” “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Always like that phrase.
    Enjoyed wandering along

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    • Hello Phil. The book store was a revelation. There were the most charming books instructing one how to sew a kimono, for instance. Each just a perfect little work of art almost. Extremely beautiful illustrations. The books I bought are exquisitely illustrated and so very old that they even have little bookworm holes running through.

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  13. Heyjude says:

    Such a beautifully composed post Barbara. I had the opportunity to visit Kyoto a few years ago with my OH who was attending a conference there, but I declined as I thought I would hate Japan with so many people and all bright lights and technology. Big.Mistake. The whole of Japan is not Tokyo. As you have shown in your delightful details.

    I always fantasied about visiting Cape Cod and Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard – mostly because of the romantic sounding names I think – and the way they are depicted in American novels. I did get there at last but it was in October and so practically deserted and I loved it! Hated Boston though especially the frenetic traffic, which surprised me as I thought I’d love Boston. Paris Syndrome indeed 🙂

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    • Coming from Massachusetts, I feel authorized to share with you the term Bostonians feel proud to use in describing their driving: “Massholes.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. I remember being in tears of frustration and rage at having been nearly driven off the road by belligerent drivers because I didn’t lurch out from a stop sign fast enough for them. It was and is a horrible experience to drive in that city. However….they make up for it with the spectacularly beautiful Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. Maybe next time, just take a taxi everywhere! I have yet to visit either Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard and when we do go, as you so wisely did, it will be in autumn.

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  14. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks Barbara. Delighted you had such a fascinating and nurturing trip. And, of course glad to read your account. I’m currently stuck in Stockholm airport waiting for a flight after two wonderful weeks in Sweden (see latest post). Welcome back and regards Thom.

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  15. I loved every part of this post. My husband fell for Japan when he visited, but I have never got there, and I’m not sure if I will now.

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    • I hope a set of circumstances arises where you’ll be able to go someday, Hilary. I feel so very fortunate to have been there and wish everybody who would want to could do so. I am so pleased you enjoyed this post.

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  16. Agatha Ann says:

    What a beautiful trip! I loved Japan when I went, for all the same reasons you describe. It is my goal to get back there someday!
    (By the way, I am an old follower, only with a different name. I used to be an animal, of sorts…)

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  17. If you love Japan for its beauty, simplicity and lack of visual clutter, you will also love Finland. When I was there I was completely knocked off my socks. The forgotten corner of Europe! Helvi is forever seeking ways to simplify our house. It is in the Finn’s gene. In any case in her gene. We put up with the hoardings and ugly signage outside here in Australia. Often a visual nightmare and insensitivity that must affect people. It almost seems people don’t have eyes.
    Welcome back Barabara, a great post.

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    • Hello Gerard, I’ve missed you and your posts during my self-imposed exile from WordPress. i hope all is well with you and yours. I so agree with your comment about the insensitivity to our surroundings affecting us. How could it not? And how interesting about Finland, I truly have no conceptions one way or the other about the country but based on your description, no doubt I would love it. Thank you so much and I’m delighted you enjoyed this post.

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  18. Susan says:

    What a beautiful, inspiring post!

    Many years ago at the tender age of 20, I enjoyed my first trip to Europe, but experienced the dreaded Paris Syndrome in Milan. What a shock to have to fight the crowds, the traffic, rude people, closed banks and an appalling exchange rate in a very grand hotel – which grudgingly allowed us to use their disgusting unisex public toilet – ugh! Fortunately the following day’s trip to Verona more than made up for it.

    However, my best experience of Kyoto Syndrome was my first visit to Melbourne, at the age of 50. What a pleasure!

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    • Hello Susan. How interesting about Melbourne. That city is popping up on my radar more and more frequently. i think the Wall St. Journal did an immensely favorable piece fairly recently on the city. Isn’t it just the best to land in a city where the travel experience is a delight as opposed to being made to feel an unwelcome intruder? Ghastly treatment in Milan indeed!

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  19. Almost Iowa says:

    Welcome home. I knew you would come bearing gifts. As for.

    “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

    . If I stuck that to the refrigerator, my wife would say, “Great idea, you first.” Still, it is a wonderful mantra to live by. 🙂

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    • Hello Greg. When I buy something now, I actually do consider the William Morris quote. That and “Is it necessary?” My husband reminds that downsizing and decluttering is an unavoidable part of our future and with that in mind, I’m leaving more things on the store shelves than not. I hope that all is well with you and yours in your corner of my former state.

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  20. Welcome back, Barbara, so nice to see you. I’ve missed your posts, and this one, of course, does not disappoint. What a fabulous collection of thoughts and photos you have assembled. It’s wonderful when a place exceeds your expectations. I love the “useful or beautiful” approach to streamlining your space. Excellent.

    I’ve never been to Paris, it still ranks high up on the bucket list, but I have experienced the dreaded syndrome a few times. The surprising one was Disneyworld, which I’d hoped would be a highlight for our kids. Turns out, they had more fun on the paddle boats at the hotel which featured a man-made lake…go figure. ☺

    You look so relaxed and happy in the photos…a sign of a successful adventure. Looking forward to hearing more. Van

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    • Hello Van. I will make it to Paris someday armed with a realistic set of expectations. We cannot expect to see Maurice Chevalier cavorting down the avenues in striped shirt, can we? Actually, it is the countryside of France I want to see and probably the more secondary destinations. I don’t do well in hordes so Paris may be somewhere we go in January. There is that funny feeling of “is it me?” when a place that is so highly touted by everyone proves a giant disappointment. I picture you having spent a boatload of money to bring your kids to Disney-nirvana wondering why you just didn’t find a local paddle boat place. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and generous comment.

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      • I learned from the experience, Barbara. After this, we booked hotels with interesting features…like man made lakes, lazy river rides, mini amusement parks, etc. My kids always loved hotels. I ended up with a career in one. ☺

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  21. Parnassus says:

    Hello Barbara, You have beat me to the punch with a post this summer–I have some planned, but you know what they say about good intentions!

    From the vestiges of old Japanese design scattered about Taiwan, it comes as no surprise to see in your photos the original wellspring of such god design, balance, and proportion.
    –Jim

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    • Hello Jim. You’ve been on my mind, I hope the typhoon has not done damage to your area and you are safe and sound. I assume you are back in Taiwan now. It is one of my fondest memories of the trip that I was able to meet you at last and I hope the next time you come to the states, we can arrange a tour of the Richmond area.

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  22. Oh, Barbara! You’re back! [waves madly] Hello!
    Great post. Lovely photos. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember much of Kyoto when we were there but I put forward in my defense that we had a 14-month-old in tow. Some things are just blurry, tired-parent memories.

    Only two chocolates?? I’m sorry, but that’s taking minimalism too far.

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    • Hello, Heather, I am waving madly right back at you. You will understand that the smile upon my face was when I thought the tray of chocolates was ours to share. When the tray was whisked away by a highly-efficient Japanese waiter, a scowl quickly replaced any trace of a smile. Minimalism in moderation when it comes to chocolate, right? And we had no money to travel when Jen was 14-months old which might not have been such a bad thing. We look at young parents in airports laden down with car seats and strollers and bottles and EGAD, I could never do it!!

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      • It was an unexpectedly generous tax return that year. 🙂 It was tricky. He wasn’t walking and I don’t know if you noticed but there’s not a lot of grass in Japanese cities and what there is is not permitted to be walked on. Oh, and the stairs…. We got to be experts at carrying a laden stroller up and down steps.
        We didn’t do that again for another 8 years when the youngest was 3 and then it was only to New Zealand. 😀

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  23. bkpyett says:

    Barbara, what an inspiring post! Having never visited Kyoto, it is lovely to see it through your eyes. I love the bit on the end about Kyoto being saved because of someone’s honeymoon memories! ❤

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    • Hello Barbara, and thank you. I was dumbstruck when I first heard the story about Kyoto being spared from the A-Bomb. To imagine that all the beauty I was seeing was intact because one man had his honeymoon there in the 1920s and loved the city so was truly mind-blowing. We are all here because of equally random events, I think. Not to get all philosophical in a comment space, but it does make one grateful for our very existence.

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  24. Those are some beautiful pictures, Barbara. I know you had a wonderful time. The FOOD looks interesting and the pictures evoke a feeling of peace and happiness.

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    • Hello Pix. We ate at some really fine restaurants where we were served absolutely exquisitely prepared food – so beautiful you almost didn’t want to eat it. But you see that big bowl of ramen soup with the egg? Best darn thing we ate on the whole trip. Real ramen is nothing like the little packets of dehydrated noodles we eat here. It was just spectacularly good. Slurp, slurp!!

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  25. Welcome b-a-a-a-a-c-k, dear Barbara. I was hoping to get a taste from your Far East trip and you did not disappoint. I love the focus on minimalism – it’s as far removed from the mainstream American culture as you can get. I love the focus on practical art, even simple privacy fences look beautiful; and the walkways! Food is an art, you eat it with your eyes first, of course. To sleep in a minimalist room like this, how did your body feel, not bombarded with all kinds of stimuli? However, as others have mentioned, two small pieces of chocolate is so very under-stated – must be why the Japanese generally are thin?

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  26. Good morning, Annette. I’m so pleased to read your comment as I can tell that what I was trying to convey came across to you. Your phrase “bombarded by stimuli” is exactly what we are, and I don’t think we even realize it until placed somewhere where we are not. I slept like a baby truly. Regarding the food, we never left the table feeling stuffed. Satisfied? Of course. But to have that feeling of having eaten way too much that you get after eating in any American restaurant, absolutely not. The portions were….civilized…. is the only way I can describe it. Oh, I so loved it over there!

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  27. nrhatch says:

    So glad the trip exceeded your expectations!

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  28. Jodi says:

    Oh Barbara! How wonderful to see a post show up on your blog! How I’ve missed your beautiful writing! Thank you for this lovely tour of Kyoto and the passionate way you explained your experience. You look so wonderful and happy in the pictures! I would love to experience this beautiful place some day! Hope you are well, my friend!

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  29. The Japanese women can be bossy kimonos.

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  30. KerryCan says:

    Oh, good! You’re back! I missed you and your way of seeing things. I haven’t been to any Asian countries but your insights do make Kyoto sound (and look!) so appealing!

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  31. Spectacular! The magic you found comes through loud and clear in your writing and your photos. Its interesting…… Japan (Kyoto in particular) has been popping up on my radar at lot lately…. As though it’s calling me ….. Your beautiful post confirms that I just might have to do something about that. Thanks!

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  32. joannesisco says:

    I was so happy to see your name pop up in my mailbox again! You’re back!!!! … I hope this isn’t a one-off?
    Clearly Kyoto has touched you. It shows up in every word and every photo. Those are the best vacations!

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    • Hello Joanne, Can’t tell you how glad I am that we are in contact more regularly through IG and I have a better idea of what you’ve been up to lately. No, not a one-off, but I will be posting far less frequently. I think keeping all things in moderation will do me good for a while anyway. Hope all is going well on that bike ride of yours.

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      • joannesisco says:

        I’m still pretty hit-and-miss with IG … especially since the conversation threads are so much harder to follow. I feel that by the time I get in – or back in – the conversation, the thread has been lost. Oh well.

        The Bike Rally went very well but my own riding is currently on hold … I’ve been away a lot and right now I’m sitting in Kalmar, Sweden. I won’t be seeing my bike for a couple more weeks!

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  33. Wonderful to hear from you again, Barbara! Thanks for the exquisite photo essay of your trip.

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  34. Hey Barbara, it’s Cristiebuck from IG. Just read your blog for the first time. You’re such a good writer and, well, you’re actually a wonderful storyteller! It’s such a pleasure to read good writing.
    And loved your little nuggets. Jake playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on ukulele left my sore heart resonating.
    Thanks for investing your heart,
    Blessings,
    Chris

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    • Hey Christie, so nice to meet you over on the other side of IG Land! Your words mean a lot to me as those of us who write these blogs really do invest our hearts as you so aptly describe. And you’ve reminded me of Jake and his ukulele. I’m going to go replay it right now! Thank you!

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  35. A.PROMPTreply says:

    Wow. What a wonderful post…..reminds me why I fell in love with your blog. Will remember to look down when in Japan. I wonder if you’re going to redo some decor at home now that you’ve come to appreciate the sparser aesthetic?

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    • Hello, Torie, thank you. I won’t be redoing anything necessarily, but will be rethinking future purchases, that’s for sure. And if and when it becomes Silver in the Loft (city living!), you can be sure the influence will be seen there. Hope you are well and thanks so much for reading.

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  36. Joanne says:

    Once again Barb, you take command of the English language and transport us to another place in time. Always a representative for the destination you are visiting, I feel as though I too have shared in this journey! Thank you for your descriptive verbage, you are a true ambassador to this fabulous part of the world. But really, only 2 chocolates? The only downside, :((((( COL!
    Love, Joanne

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    • Really only two chocolates. There’s a reason you don’t see too many heavy Japanese. Restraint in all things including food! I hope someday you can make the trip here – I think you would absolutely love it.

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  37. Welcome back. I’ve missed your posts! I hope Max was not too upset at your absence and you are back in his good graces.

    Your trip (and your description of it) sounds amazing. I am so jealous. It is on my “sometime in the foreseeable future” list. I love the simple, no-clutter aesthetic, which is probably why, among western design styles, my favorites may be the very Asian Shakers.

    Let me second the suggestion that you get yourself to Melbourne. It’s one of my all-time favorite towns. All of Victoria, in fact, is just spectacular – the great beauty, the lovely people, the wall-to-wall history, the koalas and kangaroos.

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    • Yes, now that you mention it, I see exactly what you mean about the Shakers. Fortunately, the Japanese manage to procreate so we have no fear of them going extinct as our Shakers nearly have (or perhaps already are?) Thanks for reinforcing a trip to Melbourne someday. It would be so much less intimidating to visit Australia than Asia – we sort of have a language in common!

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  38. Chloris says:

    Welcome home. Your trip sounds wonderful. I have always wanted to go to Japan at cherry blossom time. Perhaps one day.
    I can’ t understand anyone being disappointed in Paris. It is always a magical city for me. But my Kyoto moment came in Venice; a fairy tale city that exceeded all my expectations.

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    • I’ve never been to Paris OR Venice. On a trip to Europe years ago, we had time to visit only one more city and it was between Venice or Prague. We chose Prague which was wonderful and, of course, still hope to see Venice one of these days. Thank you, Chloris.

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  39. I see what you mean by the details. And it does make sense to create beautiful fences. Why do we not do that here? Weather? Cost?

    Anyway, I loved reading your perspective on a place I will never visit.

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    • Thank you, Audrey. I don’t think it’s weather as Japan has snowy cold winters although surely not in Minnesota’s league, I think. There is a heightened sensibility, I think, to improving one’s quality of life by making the things around you as pleasing as possible. It makes a difference.

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  40. ChristineR says:

    Welcome back Barbara. Lovely photos and story. Touristy spots are best visited, methinks, in off-season, or on the shoulders.

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  41. shoreacres says:

    You are back, indeed! I’m so glad. I’ve missed your posts, although you clearly have fodder now for some remarkable additions. I have no idea why I didn’t get notice of this post by email. Sometimes things do land in spam, and I confess I’m not good about really checking. In any event, all is well.

    I was so delighted to see you make the connection to William Morris and his aphorism. I once wrote a post on his ethos, and have taken his dictum to heart. I’ve never felt that “decluttering” was a grand enough term to express his view of things. I think you’re on-target, suggesting that the Japanese view of things is more in tune with Morris’s thought than are many (most?) of the Great American Organizers.

    Your photos are fabulous. And the attention to detail they reveal is both astonishing and soothing. I can’t wait to see and hear more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Linda, I won’t even insult your intelligence with lame excuses for why I’ve been so out of the blogging biz in the past few months, but suffice to say I mean to have a re-entry one of these day soon. You always delight me with the level of intelligence and thoughtfulness of your posts and your comments. You are one of my favorites! Leave it to you to have written about William Morris and I couldn’t agree more about the term “decluttering” not approaching his intended philosophy. The Japanese view of everything is definitely more in tune with his. I wonder if he spent time there? We purchased umbrellas there, Linda. There was a clerk devoted to just umbrellas and she would demonstrate the features of each and every one.I realized this was a serious purchase – not just a quick decision because who cares? It’ll only get thrown away or lost. And then she brought my choices to the register where each was wrapped in printed paper and sealed up with little stickers and placed neatly in lovely little bags by a gracious uniformed attendant. I can’t think of a more pleasurable buying experience. The attention to detail elevates even the most pedestrian of daily activities.

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  42. kristieinbc says:

    I’m still trying to catch up on my blog reading after a busy couple of weeks, so my apologies for the late comment. Your description of your lentil heart cracked me up. I use the lentil analogy too, but it’s to describe my bladder. 🙂

    Yes, I know this Kyoto syndrome. I’ve experienced it several times when traveling. It makes you want to hang onto the essence of the place forever.

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  43. Angie Mc says:

    Welcome home, Barbara! What a gorgeous, lush post ❤ Your photos and words dance together beautifully, bringing Kyoto to me. Thank you! And I will add that you look MAWvalous!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Sandra says:

    Stunning pictures (not the least of which are of you). Sounds like you’ve had a wonderful time, and experienced something that will stay with you for years to come. It’s good to have you back.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Phil Taylor says:

    Wonderful pictures and descriptive writing. I hope I get the chance to visit one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Thank you for sharing this most wonderful experience and perspective! And your pictures are lovely 🙂

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  47. markbialczak says:

    Your eyes hit the right spot at all levels around the world, Barbara. I finally Googled your blog today to get back to Virginia, thinking, Where the heck has Silver in the Barn been in my notifications? Found you, thankfully. Kyoto looks so lovely. I hope you are well, my friend.

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    • Dear Mark, thanks so much for leaving me a comment. I have been hideously remiss in keeping up with my blog in the past few months and am missing it and all of you, my special blogging friends. I hope all is well in the Itty Bitty and with you, dear wife Karen, and all the rest. Was up near Saratoga Springs visiting friends a few weeks ago – you sure do live in a beautiful part of our country.

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  48. First off, couldn’t agree more about the Cape. We are very close, and NEVER venture that way unless we are taking a pretty spring or fall ride. As for the details in Kyoto, it is easy to see how they captured your heart.I am also about the details. I am SO very glad that you told me about your blog. I can tell I will be back for many visits.

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  49. leannenz says:

    What a great post Barbara! It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I was thinking of you,

    Liked by 1 person

  50. vannillarock says:

    Have been waiting patiently for a post on your Japanese trip( I feel so weighed down with posts I haven’t written that I have to remind myself that logging has to be fun)
    Travel envy as I have never been to Japan but your post helped transport me there in all sorts of ways. Thank you.
    By the way I love the Cape !

    Liked by 1 person

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