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Update: My Life in Kyoto, Winter 2009

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I woke up to a rumbling sound this morning.  In the moment between sleeping and waking, I imagined a troupe of insolent monkeys playing on our roof.

I finally managed to get up and pull aside the curtains. I looked out the window and saw, yes, a troupe of insolent monkeys climbing on the railings of our neighbors’ houses.  Because we live at the foot of a mountain range on the northern edge of Kyoto, the monkeys know that they were here first.

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Though Kyoto winters are considered to be cold, by Japan standards, red camelias continuously bloom throughout the city, from the end of December through mid-spring.   They are especially photogenic in the snow, but this winter has been too warm for much snowfall.

Tsubaki 2009

The annual Japan Fine Arts Exhibition (Nitten) was held at the Meiji-era (late 1800’s) Kyoto Museum of Art. I walked from room to room to room of huge paintings, contemporary ceramics, woven and dyed works, a huge room of large sculpture and even some lacquer ware.

There were a considerable number of paintings that expressed nature in a way that reminded me of the Rimpa school of the 1700’s which later gave birth to art nouveau.  I found these new paintings to be enchanting visions of nature—secret glimpses into devic kingdoms or the lands of the Shinto gods.
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Painting by Seki Tomomichi (2008)