Category Archives: Ted Taylor

Deep Kyoto: Walks ~ Released on Amazon!


Deep Kyoto: Walks
Publisher: Deep Kyoto; 1st edition (May 18, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Price: $7.99 (811 yen)

Editors: Michael Lambe & Ted Taylor

Authors: Jennifer Louise Teeter, Bridget Scott, Miki Matsumoto, Robert Yellin, Pico Iyer, Chris Rowthorn, John Dougill, John Ashburne, Stephen Henry Gill, Sanborn Brown, Joel Stewart, Izumi Texidor-Hirai, Perrin Lindelauf and Judith Clancy.

18 walks
16 photographic illustrations
A specially commissioned woodblock print by Richard Steiner
12 detailed maps
Links to all locations on Google Maps
Cover Art by internationally acclaimed artist Sarah Brayer

I am very happy to announce the release of our ebook Deep Kyoto: Walks on

Just a little over a year ago I began to send out tentative proposals for the first Deep Kyoto publication. The book would be about walking in Kyoto. But it would not be a typical guidebook, with a set of directions and little nuggets of historical and cultural information. Each walk would be a meditative stroll around an area the writer knew intimately and would explore that writer’s personal relationship to the city. The book would be both a literary tribute to the city as home, and a testament to the art of walking for its own sake.

To my delight our writers responded with great enthusiasm to this proposal, and in their walks they have taken my initial idea into areas I could never have imagined. In our book we have neighborhood walks, mountain hikes, bar crawls, backstreet rambles, philosophical wanderings and strolls down memory lane. And we have gathered a fantastic group of writers too, from established Kyoto experts like Pico Iyer, Judith Clancy and John Ashburne to newer talent like Bridget Scott and Izumi-Texidor-Hirai: all of our contributors have written superb accounts of walking this city and I want to thank them all for their participation in this project.

I would also like to thank our artists: Sarah Brayer for her wonderful cover art, and Richard Steiner for his beautiful print illustration of Daimonji in flames.

Profound thanks also to Yutaka Nakayama for his design work on the cover and for his super detailed maps. And to Rick Elizaga who stepped in to take care of the formatting, and who has done a truly splendid job of it, many many thanks indeed.

Finally I would like to express my eternal gratitude to my co-editor and very best walking companion, Ted Taylor (1). From the beginning of this project to the end, he has been a great ally, and a source of encouragement, energy and inspiration.

This has been a great collective effort and together we have made a wonderful book of which we can be hugely proud. I look forward very much to our next collaboration.


Note (1): Other than Mewby of course!

See also:
Introducing the Writers
Meet the Artists

Deep Kyoto: Walks ~ Introducing the Writers

The editors...

The happy editors…

We are now one week away from the release of our ebook, Deep Kyoto: Walks! Here at last we reveal the full list of writers! You may be pleasantly surprised at this happy mix of fresh faces and seasoned hands…

There are 16 writers in our book and 18 walks. For your convenience the main chapters of the book with the writers names are listed below, along with the corresponding times that they are mentioned on the video.

The Walks:
(0.28) Time Travelling on GojoJennifer Louise Teeter discovers the Gojozaka area in the August heat offers portals through time and into other worlds…
(1.15) Red Brick & Sakura: A Walk in Modern KyotoMichael Lambe explores alternative visions of modern architecture in eastern Kyoto…
(1.51) Ghosts, Monkeys & Other NeighboursBridget Scott meditates on her personal connection to her neighborhood on a well-worn stroll from Shisen-dō to Manshu-in…
(2.24) Climbing Mount DaimonjiMiki Matsumoto considers our relation to the natural world while climbing this iconic mount
(2.41) Not Sure Which Way To GoRobert Yellin encourages us to seek chance and adventure along the Path of Philosophy…
(3.09) Into the TumultPico Iyer on a favoured walk from Gesshin-in to Sanjo Bridge reflects on how he first fell in love with this city and what it has taught him…
(3.38) Old School Gaijin KyotoChris Rowthorn tours the haunts of his reckless youth with the ironic eye of experience…
(4.07) Kamogawa MusingJohn Dougill walking by the Kamo River, the nature reserve that cuts through the heart of Kyoto, muses on history and literature…
(4.50) Gods, Monks, Secrets, FishJohn Ashburne on a mouth-watering tour of the Nishikikoji market with a sprinkling of zen spice…
(5.43) Across Purple FieldsTed Taylor walks to his corner store for a beer and on the way encounters the world…
(6.30) Blue SkyStephen Henry Gill takes us on an expert guided tour through the poetic and historical landscape of Saga and Arashiyama….
(7.34) Hiking Mount AtagoSanborn Brown joins an annual summer pilgrimage with an eccentric tea ceremony master…
(8.05) In Praise of Uro UroJoel Stewart, on a walk from Daitoku-ji to Shōden-ji, views the eclectic architecture of his neighborhood with the unique eye of an artist…
(8.45) The Botanical GardensIzumi Texidor Hirai walks through the seasons and through personal recollections in her favourite city park…
(9.20) A Long MarchTed Taylor joins a nuclear protest demo from Maruyama Park to Kyoto City Hall, and reflects on ideals and reality…
(9.39) Up & Down the Ki’Michael Lambe follows troubadours Mark Dodds and Ryotaro Sudo on a ten-bar musical bar crawl of Kiyamachi…
(10.21) Rounding Off: The Kyoto TrailPerrin Lindelauf walks the entire circuit of the hiking trail around Kyoto’s surrounding mountains
(10.55) EpilogueJudith Clancy reflects on how long years in Kyoto have changed her way of seeing…

In addition the book has a Foreword on the topic of walking by myself, and an Introduction by Ted Taylor: Afoot in the Old Capital. It is also illustrated with photos from our contributors, plus a wood block print from Richard Steiner, and is completed by 12 detailed maps to help you find your way around!

Deep Kyoto: Walks will be released on Amazon DeepKyoto-cover-0423-finalon May 21st 2014!

See also:
Joel Stewart & Ted Taylor: Two Friends Deep Kyoto Walking
Ted Taylor on the Trail of Toyotomi Hideyoshi: A Deep Kyoto Walk through History
Judith Clancy in “Deep Kyoto: Walks” ~ An Exclusive Extract
Deep Kyoto: Walks ~ Meet the Artists
Coming very soon, the first publication from Deep Kyoto

Ted Taylor on the Trail of Toyotomi Hideyoshi: A Deep Kyoto Walk through History

Ted Taylor wrote a piece for The Japan Times at the end of March that illustrates quite nicely why I asked him to be my coeditor on the Deep Kyoto: Walks anthology. As regular readers of his blog Notes from the ‘Nog will attest, Ted knows very well how to write about walking. In this article, Under the Beat of the Taiko, Ted walks about and discusses various sites around Kyoto associated with Japan’s second great unifier, the daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

It is worth noting however, that this walk, written specifically for the Japan Times Travel section and focused as it is very much on Kyoto’s past, is very different in style and content from the content of our book. In Deep Kyoto: Walks our writers were encouraged to focus more on the present moment and the web of associations that a wander down familiar paths gives rise to. Each piece in our anthology is a meditative testament to life lived in Kyoto and maps out those places where the greater story of the city and our personal histories intersect. The following excerpt from Ted’s article though, is still a striking reminder of how much a part Kyoto has played in Japan’s greater history and how much of that history remains to be explored in this our modern city.


Mimizuka:  a monument to Hideyoshi’s infamy... (Photo by Ted Taylor)

Mimizuka: a monument to Hideyoshi’s infamy… (Photo by Ted Taylor)

From Under the Beat of the Taiko
…the majority of sites related to Hideyoshi lie across town, not far away from the Kyoto National Museum. I started in fact from that very building, tracing a short counter-clockwise arc on a sunny but cold winter’s morning. I quickly head east, crossing the broad Higashi-oji and cutting through the grounds of Chisahaku-in. This temple offers one of my favorite tofu lunches, but it is still early. Beyond the temple is Shin Hiyoshi Jingu.

Today, the grounds of the shrine are somewhat hemmed in, but the layout hints at a grander scale in the past. I find a monkey statue, a reminder of Hideyoshi’s nickname when he was still a low-ranking soldier. There is also a photograph of an early Meiji Period cannon that had presumably been used in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). The limited signage doesn’t mention where the cannon itself is today, but it’s likely to have been melted down during World War II a half century later. Acorns litter the base where it once stood.

I pass Kyoto Women’s University and its accompanying cafes. On one corner is a beautiful Meiji-era building that is a nod to the antebellum American South and is apparently the University’s Founders Hall. A set of steps takes me above it, onto a vast open space of trees and stone. Off to one side is a large paved section where the Princess Line parks its red buses. It’s a point not entirely incongruous as Hideyoshi once had the audacity to demand that the Ming Emperor marry a daughter to the Japanese monarch, a demand that was naturally ignored.

There’s a steep flight of steps before me, leading up Amida-ga-mine. I begin to climb up the not insignificant number of stairs — 522, I later find. Atop the mount is Hideyoshi’s mausoleum. After his death in August 1598, he was buried here, within a massive shrine complex. A massive annual festival was once held here around the date of his death but after the victory of the Tokugawa over Hideyoshi’s son in 1615, the shrine was destroyed and the number of mourners quickly diminished.

Today, too, I find myself alone. There is a small pagoda, built in 1898 to mark the 300th year of his passing. It is of simple grey concrete, far from the gaudy glitz that the man himself was known to appreciate. Instead, the simplicity of the monument, along with the bare trees and the accompanying cold wind, is a reminder of the poverty into which the man had been born.

I circumambulate this plain stone edifice. If you squint through the trees to the north, you might be able to make out the sightseers standing on the famed deck of Kiyomizu-dera. Behind the mausoleum are a series of trails running in a number of directions.

However, I return the way I came, in the direction of Hoko-ji Temple. Just to the east is a small park with a handful of structures and a great deal of cracked tile. It was here that Hideyoshi built his massive Buddha to rival that of Nara. Eighteen meters high, the Buddha’s fortunes lasted longer than that of the Toyotomi family, though these fortunes could hardly be called good.

Repeatedly destroyed by fire and earthquake, the Buddha would be rebuilt again, in a near parody of that ancient Zen proverb: “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” However, the great statue fell for good in 1973, destroyed by fire. (This finality is so seemingly complete for I can’t even find a photo on the Internet, despite the recent date of demise.)

The temple itself is pretty small and nondescript. The shinbutsu bunri, or separation of Buddhism from Shinto in the opening days of the Meiji Period, allowed the grounds of neighboring Toyotomi Shrine to envelop what had once belonged to the temple. The only truly interesting feature is an old bell, which was cast in 1614. As Richard A.B. Ponsonby-Fane wrote in his 1956 masterpiece, “Kyoto: the Old Capital of Japan”:

“[T]he tablet over the Daibatsu-den and the bell bore the inscription ‘Kokka ankō’ (meaning ‘the country and the house, peace and tranquility’), and at this Tokugawa Ieyasu affected to take umbrage, alleging that it was intended as a curse on him for the character 安 (an, ‘peace’) was placed between the two characters composing his own name 家康 (ka-kō, ‘house tranquility’) [suggesting subtly perhaps that peace could only be attained by Ieyasu’s dismemberment?]“

This perceived slight gave Ieyasu yet another pretext for which to dismember the Toyotomi clan itself.

The neighboring shrine, Toyokuni Jinja, was built in 1599 and dedicated to Hideyoshi. This honor was, of course, revoked under the Tokugawa, but once again renewed by the Meiji Emperor himself. The Karamon, an ornately carved gate that has been designated a national treasure, unfortunately flanks a built-up ground that seems to function solely as a parking lot. I find no real reason to linger.

Around the corner is one final site that is more a monument to Hideyoshi’s infamy. Beneath the gently sloping grass hill of Mimizuka are the severed noses of allegedly 38,000 Korean soldiers and civilians killed during Hideyoshi’s ill-advised invasions of Korea (1592-98). Remuneration was usually paid to warriors according to the number of heads taken in battle, but as this campaign took place such a long distance away, noses seemed a fair substitute. Dedicated in 1597, it is most telling that the information written on the plaque is in Japanese and Korean. The mound is unknown to most Japanese, but Korean tour buses can be frequently seen nearby.

As I walk back toward the subway, I wonder at the thoughts of the locals, living in modest suburban houses around the Mimizuka site. However, as these modern homes themselves attest, despite the rich legacy of this city, most Kyoto-ites don’t really seem to live much in harmony with the past anymore, and seem content to instead give it a curt nod as they move forward with their lives.

Read the full article here.


By some uncanny chance the Hailstone Haiku Circle‘s most recent composition stroll also took in the mausoleum of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and you can read about that here. The Deep Kyoto: Walks connection? Hailstone participants Stephen Gill and John Dougill are both contributors to our book! From this posting though, it is the following haiku by Branko Manojlovic, that I find most poignant:

Hideyoshi’s tomb –
Nobody sweeps here
But the April wind

More about the writers of Deep Kyoto: Walks to be revealed soon!
See also:
Judith Clancy in “Deep Kyoto: Walks” ~ An Exclusive Extract
Deep Kyoto: Walks ~ Meet the Artists
Coming very soon, the first publication from Deep Kyoto

2nd Haiku Workshop with Ted Taylor @ Sakura Ryokan

Our Ted will host his second haiku workshop at Sakura Ryokan this Friday (January 25th). The lesson is free of charge and no reservation is necessary. Sakura Ryokan is located south of Gojo on the east side of Aburanokoji Street. Here is a map. The workshop begins at 7.30pm. More details here.

Cultural Winter Evening! Haiku - Japanese Short Poem Making Workshop

Haiku Workshop with Ted Taylor @ Sakura Ryokan

Just a quick post to say that our pal, Ted Taylor, will present a regular English haiku workshop at Sakura Ryokan from December 7th (tomorrow!). The lesson is free of charge and no reservation is necessary. Sakura Ryokan is located south of Gojo on the east side of Aburanokoji Street. Here is a map. The workshop begins at 8pm. More details here.

The Flame @ Papa John’s Eatery

Charles Roche says,

On Sunday, May 27th ” The Flame”, an evening of true, personal, experience stories told by suspect individuals will debut at Papa Jon’s Eatery. Stories (all in English) begin at 7:00PM. No translations provided.

Inspired by the famous New York storytelling NPO, The Moth, Kyoto’s The Flame has the potential to be an exciting new regular get-together for our community. With some familiar names listed for the opening night, there will also be an open mic session. The first story theme is, “On and off the Road, traveler’s tales of the UNEXPECTED.” For further details, left click on the flyer below and then click again.

Date and time: Sunday May 27th, 7:00 – 9:30 pm.
Entry: 500 yen.
Location: Papa John’s Eatery is on the 3rd floor of the Shimpukan Building, just south of Oike, on the east side of Karasuma.

Children of Water – First Showing!

It’s almost a year ago now that I interviewed Roger Walch and Ted Taylor during the making of the movie “Children of Water”. Regular readers may remember a wide-ranging discussion about story-telling, old movies, jizo statues, and very, very creepy kokeshi dolls. The movie will have its premiere showing in Nara on July 19th. See the details on the poster below:

Actually Roger likes to call this its “pre-premiere” as he will have a bigger premiere in Kyoto in the autumn. Says Roger:

After one year in an ESL-course in the US, Mina (a Japanese graphic designer) returns to Kyoto and discovers that she is pregnant. She contemplates abortion, but her American boyfriend Brad strongly opposes and flies to Japan to convince her to keep the baby. During his stay he not only gets to know life and customs in Japan but also different moral and religious values.

There will be a shakuhachi/piano performance before the screening.

Mina: Lili Sakamoto
Brad: Ted Taylor
Written and directed by Roger Walch
Music by Morphic Jukebox

The location in Nara is a Restaurant called “Geppo”. It is 5 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Nara station. One block south of Sanjo-dori and a bit East of Konishi-dori.

Thanks Roger!

Related: The Children of Water interview

Petals on a wet, black bough…

Sa-ku-ra! Sa-ku-ra!

Yes, the hanami season has arrived and the cheery, cherry blossoms look so good I could just EAT them!

Well, there is no more romantic location than Kyoto to see cherry blossom, but what’s your favorite location within the city? For me it’s the tree-lined Kita-Shirakawa canal. Heading away from the Path of Philosophy follow it down Imadegawa a ways and you’ll find yourself in a great place for a stroll under the trees. And unlike other locations, it’s a secret! No crowds! There are some nice cafes and galleries along the route as well, such as Shizuku and Riho. It’s a good spot for firefly viewing in June too. Altogether, a great sakura spot (though not so good for picnics). I decided to ask some members of Deep Kyoto’s extended family:

What is your favorite location for viewing cherry blossom in Kyoto?

And this is what they told me: Continue reading

Kyoto Vipassana Meditation Center

IMG_1329Deep Kyoto friend and contributor Ted Taylor recently completed a two and a half month hike along the Kumano Kodo and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage. Returning briefly to Kyoto before continuing his travels he stopped for ten days at the Kyoto Vipassana meditation center.  Today he sent me a report on his experiences there. Ted writes:

I found myself sharing dormitory space with six other men, none of whom would talk to me.  Which is no surprise really as we`d taken a vow not to speak during the 10 days which make up the Vipassana meditation course.  The Center is about 90 minutes north of Kyoto, at the end of a lovely drive into a remote valley. Continue reading

Cafe Millet

Ted Taylor writes…wheat

On a warm autumn afternoon, during a north Kyoto hike from Ohara over to Kurama, we came across a group of young people building a wood burning oven out of stone. Standing in front of this ishigama, we made small talk with the young couple in charge of the project. The young woman told us that the bread that this oven would bake would be a centerpiece of the cafe that had just opened here, her hand gesturing at a comfortable looking building made of wood and glass. We promised to come back again.oven

A month or so later we ran into them again in Ohara, this time as part of a larger group busy harvesting adzuki and soy, some of which would wind up that night on the table of Cafe Millet.

What at first seems like a throwback scene to the old hippie days is actually a large and growing trend in Japan. Driven by both environmental and economic concerns, many young Japanese are shunning a life in the cities for one in the soil.bread

The idea of returning to the countryside is hardly a new one. Masanobu Fukuoka’s classic work, “The One-Straw Revolution” has for over 30 years lured people back to a traditional life of farming. What is different this time is that the movement is not simply at the personal or grass roots level. In March of this year, Prime Minister Taro Aso created the Rural Labor Squad, as a way to give employment to the young while simultaneously revitalizing rural communities and their dwindling labor pool. Local farmers are for the most part grateful for the help, though some feel that the young will once again return to the city when the economy picks up. Continue reading