A Flâneuse in Kyoto

Even in a person
most times indifferent
to things around him
they waken feelings
the first winds of autumn 

Even though the night grows deeper
In the first breeze of autumn
No one by the Kamo River
And the Shijo Bridge
Wants to return home.

Red: Places of Interest   Blue: Eat   Green: Sleep

Many years ago I came across the French term “Flâneur.”  According to Cornelia Otis Skinner,  the flâneur is a man (flâneuse is a female) who becomes a deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, yet one who wastes nothing, including time. “It is time spent with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of a city. There is nothing lazy in flânerie. It is, rather, a way of understanding the rich variety of a city landscape. It is a moving photograph of urban experience…a gastronomy of the eye.”

I highly recommend becoming a flâneur/flâneuse in whatever place you land in Kyoto. Leave all distractions behind, get up early and begin walking the streets and alleys of your new “neighborhood.” Repeatedly visit your local temples or shrines at different times of the day; shop and eat locally. There will always be someone to help you if you feel lost or feel the need for directions.

I discovered so much that remains traditional by doing just this, and share with you a few of the images from my most recent “neighborhood” in the Higashiyama-gojo area of Kyoto where I lived for six weeks.