The question of Kyoto

People are genuinely surprised when I tell them I have never been to Kyoto, and have no interest in going. After 13 years in Japan, I would have made the effort if I really wanted to go.

The truth is I have traveled Japan from the southern most point, I have walked the old Tokaido. I have rode local trains cross country…I find adventures off the beaten path.

I’ve seen true omotenashi is the parts of Japan that most tourists  do not see.

I’ve seen the kindness of strangers at a bus stop. Stranded, waiting for a bus that was three hours overdue in near freezing weather in Ibaraki. The kindness I saw was strangers sharing what ever food and drinks they had and keeping each other amused until the bus came.

I’ve had strangers lend me a bicycle to explore after the plane that was to whisk me away from a  small dot off the coast of Okinawa called Tarama-jima broke down and was delayed two days.

Recently, in southern Chiba I learned to make sashimi in a restaurant during business hours by a kind man. I also saw him feed one of his neighbors who did not have money.

I guess if I went to Kyoto, it wouldn’t seem authentic, like it’s a show. However if you are planning a visit to Japan and have never been, please go.

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