kyoto missive 3


Last Friday, i revisited the place where i lived here in Kyoto back in the early 1970s, when i was 3-5 years old. It's a house, on a hill, next to a temple called Dai-Koku-Ten. It's at the north-east edge of Kyoto, and turned out to be a very short bike ride from where i've been staying here with Aix and Rob.

It actually looked like i remembered it, and it was a magical experience.

I wasn't sure if memories would last 21 years, but they did. Imagine visiting somewhere for the first time and suddenly realizing that you'd been there many times in dreams... it had that feeling.

I saw the tiny house we lived in, the big temple next to it, paid my respects by splahing water on the statue of some of Buddha's incarnations, followed the stone steps leading down to the path through the bamboo that i walked with my mother every day to the preschool. I walked around the preschool, which was full of little kids taking an afternoon nap just like i used to, and stood in the yard which i remembered hanging with festival lanterns.

The vegetation was more lush and tropical than i remembered, profuse vines and bright green everywhere i looked, moss and pine and bamboo and strange insects, even something that i think was a small bat, flitting across my field of view, too large to be a butterfly, but not moving like a bird.

Walking back the tiny house in which i lived, i noticed a mysterious path leading from the front of the house, going up the hill. I followed it enthusiastically, 3 spoonfuls of ayahuasca that morning giving me the lightness of body to float up the hill.

The vegetation gave way to scrubby bushes, and a strange object appeared on the path before me, looking like an enourmous candlestick - then another, and another, further up the trail. Looking back, i realize that they are set in a pattern on this hillside, making up the japanese character for "big", pronounced "DAI", which is shaped like a person with their arms outstretched to symbolize "bigness".

I realize that this is the DAI i had heard of, that is set with giant torches at some time of the year, so that a great DAI shines out across the city of Kyoto. The path to the DAI just happened to start from the front of the house that i lived in.

I stand in the center of the DAI with my arms outstretched, looking out across Kyoto. It is beyond words.

That's it for this installation. Next time, Rainbow 2000.


typical kyoto street
(this one leads to daikokuten)

the house

in front of house

daikokuten building
(my father built this)

another daikokuten building

path back from school

path to school

schoolyard with preparation for Obon

mysterious steps