Dawn in the Mountain Spring Lodge. Blue light, slowly glowing through the curtains. It's so quiet in this hood. I can hear the rain falling gently on the roof. A lullabying rhythm, a gentle start to the morning. I tuck deeper beneath the warm, comfortable blanket. Just one more minute...
Freezing mornings under clear spring skies, trudging through crowds and traffic, through bus and train. A daily pilgrimage, towards the mountains in Kameoka, a suburban town just outside of Kyoto. Struggling to stay awake, yawning every so often. I need coffee, but it'll have to wait.
The moment I alight from the train, all the prior chaos and madness fades into the quiet. It's a sleepy town, after all. The sun's out, but it's still winterish cold despite it being spring. Cold, crisp air with a warm sunlit kiss on the skin - it's a lovely enjoyable stroll. The houses down the street are quiet, and doors closed. Feels like nobody's home. Perhaps they are, as it's a work day. The slide and swings at the playground draw me in and beg to be used, but I hesitate. My apprenticeship awaits and work calls, and I'm keen to get started.
It's always a nice feeling to arrive at the studio. Light and air fills it up, and entering the space, you expand into it. Tea is ready to warm the hands, and a soothing, lullabying music warms the mind. The kintsugi teacher gives a few minutes of instruction and demonstration, and off I go. We work quietly and silently, me on my own piece, she on her many other pieces. She glances at my work occasionally and guides me along gently. I ask questions if I don't understand, but otherwise, our interaction is limited. But I'm not complaining. It's such a refreshingly different way to learn. None of the intimidating pressure to perform or achieve, but instead all of the nurturing guidance and support necessary to learn well.
I love it.
Starting my mornings working calmly and quietly in such a lovely, meditative space. Using my hands on intricate work, to repair a broken tea bowl with gold. The gentle guidance of a kind teacher, by the side.
A perfect morning.
Beauty doesn't last forever. And so do beautiful moments. Mornings doing kintsugi flew by. Too soon, it was noon. But this is actually just the right amount. Hara buchi bu. Just eat till 80% full. Leave room for you to hunger for more, tomorrow.
But by now I am hungry, for something else. Lunch. So I make my way to Nijo station, and have the usual udon and tempura. Working class salarymen (and women) all eat here. It's a food joint that sells fast local fare at economical prices, so everyone comes. I love eating at local places like these. Far removed from touristy spots, I'm eating with the locals, eating like a local, and feeling like a local. It's as much about the eating as it is about the feeling.
Maintaining the calm pace that the morning had set up, I slowly make my way towards Light Up Coffee Kyoto. They serve a delicious single origin piccolo latte here, and I'm hooked. The cafe itself, was just the kind of space like the kintsugi studio in the morning. Wood and stone, quiet and calm. I nurse my latte slowly, savour every sip, trying to figure out the taste notes. Mandarin orange! Candy finish! It's a test of the senses, and coffee had never been this fun.
Other times, I just flip magazines, and just observe the people coming in and out of the cafe. I linger longer than I have to, but it's okay. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. I'm in Kyoto, land of a thousand temples to visit. But here I found my contentment in the littlest things. And it's good.
Hopping across the river, getting home. There's big stones here that the city had placed in the river, for people to cross when the water level is low. It's still early spring, so everyone's happy to be out in clear weather. It's late afternoon now, and golden light warms the river banks. Kids scavenge among the rock beds. Friends hopping across the river together. Masses of students from the nearby Kyoto U, gathered together for their hanami picnics. Pigeons and crows, circling around, eager to catch any crumbs from the picnickers.
Every time I turn the corner and see the river, my heart gladdens. Scenes of bliss, everywhere. Smiles and laughter, golden light and water. I too hop across the river. But I could very well be floating, in the bliss here. It's beautiful beyond measure, and has to be experienced to be believed.
The extraordinary in the everyday, the magic in the simple. What a pleasure to relish, what a privilege to enjoy.
A perfect day in Kyoto.