Deep Kyoto Walks E-book Now Available on Amazon, with Ramblings by Yours Truly in “Gods, Monks, Secrets, Fish”
Edited by Michael Lambe and Ted Taylor, it’s a great collection of meditative strolls by long-term residents of Kyoto, and all-round cool people. And me. It sez ‘ere: “Deep Kyoto: Walks is a new anthology of 18 meditative strolls in Japan’s ancient cultural capital. Independently produced by 16 writers who have made their home in Kyoto, this book is both a tribute to life in the city of “Purple Hills and Crystal Streams”, and a testament to the art of contemplative city walking. In a series of rambles that express each writer’s intimate relationship with the city, they take you not only to the most famous shrines and temples, but also to those backstreets of memory where personal history and the greater story of the city intersect. Join Pico Iyer, Judith Clancy, Chris Rowthorn, John Dougill, Robert Yellin, John Ashburne and more as they explore markets and mountains, bars and gardens, palaces and pagodas and show us Kyoto afresh through the eyes of those who call it “home”.
My walk, entitled “Gods, Monks, Secrets, Fish” starts at the place where this fellow, Zen-Patriarch and proto-Foodie Dogen, (pictured left) ‘left the building’, and finishes at the sacred well in Nishiki Tenmangu. En route I stop off for some fine seafood at Daiyasu, and sample some of the great foodstuffs that are available in the Nishiki Market Arcade. At some point I go on seemingly unconnected asides about the French, the Vikings, Locusts, etc. If you’d like a wee taster, please pardon the pun, Michael has kindly put up this link on his Deep Kyoto website. The full kit and caboodle can be purchased for a very reasonable fee at that well-known purveyor of words named after a large rainforest, here. And here, for you patient readers who kindly got this far, is a bit of Dogen that didn’t make it into my walk:
“Through one word, or seven words, or three times five, even if you investigate thoroughly myriad forms, nothing can be depended upon. Night advances, the moon glows and falls into the ocean. The black dragon jewel you have been searching for, is everywhere”
秋なす Eggplants aka Nasu were probably the first blue-purple things I ever ate. They are best in the autumn in Japan. A famed Japanese adage says you should never give the best ones to your wife in case she becomes too accustomed to the finer things in life. Personally I would be more than happy to give Sasha the best eggplants.
帆立 Scallops or Hotategai, a favourite of mine. Ate them once up in Aomori Prefecture in a very rough and rustic bowl of Ramen. Looked ropey, tasted fantastic. The place was called Shirakaba Ramen, the Silver Birch noodle shop, if you ever find yourself hungry on the windswept Western coast of the Shimokita Hanto peninsula.
黄瓜のつけもの Pickled cucumbers. With a little togarashi pepper to add some bite to the crunch.
カキ Oysters, first eaten in Japan aboard boats on the river that runs through Hiroshima, so they say. Hiroshima is still famed for them, as is Kumihama in Northern Kyoto prefecture. Best in winter. An old friend of mine, Yoshito, runs a Sake brewery in Kumihama, and I remember a great outdoor party he threw many years ago when he ordered a huge consignment of fresh oysters from his fisherman friend, which he steamed in sake sakamushi-style in a giant cauldron.
たくあんずけ Pickled daikon radish, or Takuanzuke. This is home-pickled, and that colour is natural. Not many japanese people know it, but Takuan isnamed after a monk of the same name who lived in the Takagamine district of North-west Kyoto.