Tom and I just got this print framed. We bought it in Japan, at a tiny shrine in Kyoto – the name of which we never found out.
We were in the Gion district, known for its geishas, and in fact later that afternoon I had an appointment booked to dress up as a geisha, complete with the theatrical makeup and beautiful kimono. We had about half an hour to spare, and had read in the guidebook of a lovely shrine nearby that sounded worth a visit. Although I try not to make it a priority, I can’t help but enjoy the feeling of ‘ticking off’ the best-known or most-recommended sights. So we set out, maps and books in hand.
We came to this gate, and thought we had found it.
We quickly realised it could not possibly be the right shrine. It was far too small, and had none of the features we’d been told to look out for. But it was raining, and we didn’t feel like continuing our search.
Besides, this shrine had a quiet beauty of its own, hemmed in on all sides by city blocks.
It was full of boars.
We took shelter, and watched some people lighting incense and making their prayers. We spent a little while admiring the beauty around us, relaxing into it.
Thinking back to it now, I wonder if there was some sort of spell on the place. I can transport myself back there so vividly; the sound of soft rain, the scent of blooming camellias and burning incense, the gentle light of early evening. I feel like the quiet and the peace of it seeped into my bones. It felt ancient and timeless, a tiny nook of tranquillity in a busy world.
We spent only minutes there, but I know that feeling, awakened every time I look at our lovely print, will be with me forever. That is something to treasure.