i go to arashiyama one afternoon, and have lunch at shigetsu in tenryu-ji's garden grounds: the restaurant is temple-affiliated. at shigetsu we eat in a communal tatami room, kneeling side by side on long red carpet runners that line the sides of the room. the food is brought in lacquer trays and placed on the floor before us. the server and i bow to each other. we eat in silence, and i think of enso kitchen in singapore, where i first had shojin-ryori, japanese zen temple cuisine, many years ago, and the chef telling us to be mindful of every mouthful, to eat with a contemplative heart.


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looking for the torokko arashiyama station to get onto the sagano scenic railway, the japanese-only signs stumped me for a while. there was more than one train station in the vicinity, and only the word for station was written with the chinese character. but i remember torokko was a foreign loanword from the english word "truck" and only one station had its name written with some katakana. i was not wrong.


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the bamboo groves are dizzying.


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the few canoeists are intent on their paddling, but the people on the sightseeing boats travelling down the rapids of the hozugawa look up and smile and wave when the torokko train passes by on the ridge of the gorge. everyone on the train waves enthusiastically back. i wave too. i liked sharing in that moment of spontaneous, transient and anonymous gesture of camaraderie.


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even in the summer season, the view from the gorge stirs one.

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