I woke at 2.30 on Sunday morning having passed out with exhaustion early the previous evening. Around midnight there had been a thunderstorm but it was no longer raining. I was sure I wouldn’t return to sleep so decided to get up and walk. I was out with my camera at 3.15 knowing that it would be light in about an hour.
How tropical it was. The lens of my camera steamed up when I took my first photos of the night/morning, creating digital haloes around the lamps. It was quiet but not completely empty in the Gion streets. I never felt the slightest bit unsafe. This was Kyoto.
I wandered across to Pontocho and slowly walked its length, marvelling all the while at the lights reflecting and glowing in the wet pavement. I knew that I was capturing what I would later turn into drawings. And I will…
Around 4 a m the sky got a little lighter. (Can you find the cat in the photo above?) I meandered back to Shinbashi, buying a roll and an iced coffee on the way to fully wake myself up.
Can you imagine the reverie I was in, alone in Kyoto with my thoughts and the beauty all around? It still makes me swoon to think about. After observing the streets transform in the increasing light I walked up to the nearby eastern hills; Higashiyama.
At 4.45 the birds were awake and singing. In the distance I could hear the low powerful thrum of a temple gong being struck at intervals – reverberating with satisfaction. Close up, summer flowers glistened from the previous night’s rain. The senses were inspired; sound, sight – and smell – the latter from the flowers’ scents plus lingering incense from the (still-closed) shops.
I walked, stopped, composed…on and on. By now it was thoroughly light though not even 6 a.m. Higashiyama was all spirit and soul. The tourists were still asleep. Just the odd local walked his dog, “Ohayo gozaimasu”. But mostly, it was just me.
I took my portrait in front of the ‘Blue Stocking’ dress shop. No; I didn’t even notice my reflection in this photo (below) until today. I took the photo originally because I was fascinated with the conservative frocks on display. They reminded me of the 1950s.
Around 7.30 a.m, with full heart but empty stomach, I returned to my hotel for breakfast. Then I went straight out and caught the subway to the botanical gardens in the north of Kyoto…but that is another story.
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PS: To really appreciate the Kyoto morning, please click on photos to enlarge them.