Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Well Well Well

At the urging of our fearless leader and chief, I have begun to recontemplate this blog and its place in the greater scheme of Greentour Kyoto. A kick start was required, a shot in the arm, a smack in the chops, well, whatever the wallop it means that this here blog will now entail not only trails, but tales. Tales of life in Kyoto and its surrounds, because as I was reminded recently, what has become the trivial daily grind of my life here is, in fact, pretty damned unusual for visitors to this part of the world - both present, past and potential.

Things that I of 6 years in Japan have become accustomed to seeing and doing everyday are perhaps not what the less Japanified would expect at all. Its not all neon, noodles and ninjas, you know! The modesty and simplicity of life is something I find very alluring about Kyoto, and being able to do things in my daily routine that people have been doing for literally hundreds of years, still boggles my little kiwi brain sometimes: Could you imagine drawing water from a well that precedes time eternal to fill your drink bottle? Well, indeed.

I cycle to work most days, and on the way I pass through the Kyoto Imperial Palace Grounds - incidentally right opposite the Greentour Kyoto headquarters on Marutamachi Street - where lie a number of wells, some dry, some still producing water. The well I frequent is to the east of the grounds, down a shaded lane and just inside the side entrance to a shrine. There is an honesty box to make a small donation, and a tap next to the well that draws from the table of water on which Kyoto sits. You can usually see a small line of people with containers of varying size and shape, waiting to fill up. We are experiencing a sweltering start to the summer here in Kyoto, to the extent that the well resembles a Savannah watering hole - the other day while I was there some old fella took the opportunity to stop by and soak himself by pouring ladle after ladle of water over his head, before jumping on his bicycle and going about his business - such baptismal encounters probably seen countless times throughout the course of a day.

For those of you who are in Kyoto, or planning a trip here this summer, I would suggest taking the chance to partake in a bit of local custom and rehydrate at the same time! Make your way to the Seiwan-gomon gate in the Kyoto Imperial Palace Grounds, go through the gate and take a left down the dirt road. You'll find the well on the right just inside the gates of the Nashinoki Shrine.