Tag Archives: books

Deep Kyoto Walks

The view from Mt Hiei north to Ohara.

The view from Mt Hiei north to Ohara.

Last year at a pub Christmas dinner I was introduced to Ted Taylor, a friend of friends and the co-editor of a book of walks around Kyoto. Learning I had recently published a book, he invited me to contribute an article to the collection, called Deep Kyoto Walks.

It turned out that Ted and his co-conspirator, Michael Lambe, writer on the great blog Deep Kyoto, had assembled an all-star line-up of Kyoto experts and I was sneaking in at the very end of the project. I was both honored and intimidated to be included in the company of well-known writers, artists and journalists. I don’t know everyone, but Chris Rowthorn was the first to help me get into travel writing and thanks to his counsel I was able to publish my first book last fall. Bridget Scott is an extraordinary dancer, a real expert on Kyoto and a dear friend. The headliner for the book is Pico Iyer, who is about as famous as it gets in the travel writing industry. I’m eager to read his piece about how he first came to Kyoto.

Ted remembered me from my very first published article (much to my shame and horror), a piece on The Kyoto Trail for Kansai Time Out, so he suggested I expand that theme into a full circumnavigation of Kyoto. It sounded good, except for being January. Nevertheless, I spent the next couple of weeks covering sections of the 69km route a bit at a time, even though it meant I needed to ski down part of Mt Hiei in my running shoes.

Walking around most of the city I have called home for eight years was a good chance to reflect on all the experiences I have had here. I was in conversation with a friend once and I said that Kyoto always felt big to me. If Canadian towns are all stretched out with nothing much in-between, Kyoto is corrugated with history. I don’t know how many times I have turned down a random side alley and stumbled into something wonderful. This is literally true sometimes: I once nearly got run over by a horse in a festival procession because I popped out of an alley too quickly.

In any case, the book, Deep Kyoto Walks, is out now! I hope readers unfamiliar with Kyoto will be able to see some of its sides through this diverse collection.

Book Destroyer

Been reading a lot recently, as the winter has set into my room and words on the page are the only thing keeping me from sliding into complete hibernation. Well, that, and my electric footwarmer, which happens to be the greatest piece of desk paraphernalia every made, a massive inducement to just stay put at the computer where my feet are warm enough for blood movement. 

Since returning to Kyoto from Canada this October I’ve chewed through seven books, the most recent of which was Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. The story follows Jim Dixon, an assistant lecturer caught up in the petty intrigues of academic life and a lousy relationship with a neurotic that he can’t shake. 

The book is a study in frustration, and its humor comes through best in Amis’ description of Jim’s internal monologue, the snide comments he can only make to himself, the way he turns away from someone to make elaborately described faces of impotent rage.