Tuesday, November 18, 2008
autumn, and i wanted to return to this wonderful place in kyoto i realized i never wrote about. during my first year, thanks to the magnificent sam and fiona, we saw the cherry blossoms in kyoto and stayed in a traditional merchant house, called machiya. it's one of the coolest places i've ever stayed. the mansion is mazelike and has many cool surprises, usually discovered when crawling around, feeling every corner in search of each room's three or four well-hidden light switches (one will be in a cabinet, one on the ceiling, and one outside the room). there are at least fourteen rooms, too, so turning off the 40 lights is practically a full-time job.
i assembled twelve friends and we gathered at the machiya for a november weekend. brian and i had to take off work early friday (since we live the farthest away) in order to check in on time. in celebration, we bought some beers and had a lovely afternoon drinking and knitting on the train!
when we arrived, a young man who spoke english met us there in order to go over the rules (and where to find the light switches!). when he mentioned he had lived in the US, i asked where and was surprised to hear it was seattle. i told him i had lived just south, in tacoma. he was like, "actually. tacoma is where i lived too." the coincidences got weirder. we both studied painting in tacoma at the same time! we both lived downtown. finally i said, "i lived near the Grand Cinema," and he said, "so you must have known the Kickstand Cafe?" of course i did. suddenly, the six years since folded up like an accordion, and the memory of his face surfaced. i had met him before, just once, in that cafe in tacoma!! he had even given me a japanese fashion magazine, which i still have!
one by one, people arrived on buses and trains, and we took a "family picture" in the dining room.
we scattered through the house, exploring. each room is beautiful, and several of the rooms surround inner gardens open to the sky, separated by only paper shoji doors. the bathrooms each have a cedarwood bathtub, the absolute best material a bath could be made of. the wood is never cold like ceramic or steel, so you settle in with no shock of cold against your skin. it's marvelous. (a picture of that coming soon)
we made futon angels, and then talked late into the night.