Source: deep kyoto
This month our friend, Edward J. Taylor, continues his exploration of Kyoto’s streets with a thoughtful stroll along Kiyamachi. To view previous installments of this ongoing series see the links at the end of this article.
It is a well-known fact that Japan is very strict about controlled substances. Never a big user myself, I’ve always felt that drugs aren’t necessary here since society itself can be so surreal. So I barely batted an eye when I exited a side gate from Kyoto Station to find myself in the middle of parade, with a full-blown marching band, baton twirlers, and a trio of puffy-cuddly mascots for god-knows-what? Just another day in Cool Japan.
If anything, the people puppeteering the mascots must have been happy that the summer heat had finally gone away. I too had a bit more spring in my previously lethargic step, as I walked a few blocks over to the canal that parallels Kiyamachi. The street’s best feature is its long array of cherry trees, which create an incredible pink canopy for a week or so in spring. But as I tend to associate drinking quarters with summer, when it feels the whole city is out and about, I intended to walk Kiyamachi before the return of short days and long sleeves.
I begin at a place I found on Google Maps that I’d never heard of before. Zenizaba existed for just under a century after its founding in 1698, exactly a decade after the birth of the Genroku era. Itself lasting a mere 16 years, the Genroku could be called the apotheosis of Edo period literary culture, when names like Chikamatsu, Saikaku, and Basho reigned. Arts and literature flourish best in a time of affluence, and as such Zenizaba was founded …continue reading