29.06.2009, Kyoto 8th day


Yesterday Ralph and I left the conference early and walked the six kilometers from the university to our hotel. We first walked westwards to the mountains and at the foot of them joined the river south which we followed all the way into the centre of town. It is lucky to have a colleague who loves walking as much as I do. The river is pretty. Wonderful white cranes, ducks and nettles with extremely large leaves as well as the usual sort of stuff. One cannot say that the city faces the river and yet it is an important park-like place. The river is young as it flows through the city, unlike the Thames through London or the Maas and Waal as they flow through Holland. There is quite a swell when it has been raining, as it did all today. But yesterday the river was low and the embankment was green. We walked and walked, watching a Tuba player, a saxophone player, a clarinet player with her dad and a whole heap of other musicians escape the confines of their own crowded homes to practice their magic craft on the embankment. Near the centre of town the river is calibrated along its length between two bridges by loving couples who for some reason all need just about the same space between them to do what loving couples do. Every so often the river is crossed by stepping stones carved fancifully in the shape of cushions or turtles. At these points families congregate and children do their thing in the water. Under the bridges the homeless made their homes and just beyond them men throw their baseballs and show off their strength and skill at whatever they want to show of their strength and skill at. As we reached the centre of town we left the embankment and made for a restaurant along the covered food market, where they serve delicious and affordable noodle soup with beer: "Konnichi wa, sumimasen, ni biiru, onegai shimas." It was Sunday and yet all the young people were out in force, as they had been on Friday and Saturday. When we sat in the underground going to the conference this morning these same young people did appear extremely tired. But no more so than the older people. So there you go.

The same day we zigzagged the grid together photogrpahing endless details of windows, letterboxes, parking problems, thresholds with plants, wirespcapes and the colourful stuff you can buy in shops. We went into a gambling hall to have a look around. That was extraordinary. I'm am not at all sure I know what game the endless rows and rows of people were playing, but it seemed to consist of having a basket full of chrome marbles which they deposited in handfuls into the machine's greedy mouth, which would then behave something like an automatic pinball machine. Literally rows and rows of people, all glued with their empty eyes to these machines. What was most extraordinary however was the noise in the gambling hall. It sounded like a sort of electronic hurricane that whooshed through the room the whole time. Ralph and I speculated as to why this might be and we both agreed that it must be to brainwash the gamblers and make them draw into themselves and stare more fixedly at their machines. They did all appear rather sad somehow. Unfortunately I felt too timid to take pictures of the whole scene, but Ralph did. But neither of us could take pictures of the noise, which was by far the most extraordinary thing.

Wonderful constructivism
These and the following are pictures of the walls in the Kyoto school of art, things hanging about