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Tani House and North West Kyoto

Tani House entrance


Kyou nitemo
kyou natsukashi ya


Even in Kyôto—
hearing the cuckoo's cry—
I long for Kyôto

I am in Kyôto,
Yet at the voice of the hototogisu,
Longing for Kyôto.

Back to Kyoto
My longing now refreshed
When Hototogisu cry

Haiku - Matsuo Bashô

This is our last day in Kyoto. We wound up by going to a craft market at a local temple, catching a glimpse of the maples beginning to turn red in the parks, where a Japanese man stopped me to pronounce that my visage was very much in the likeness of Basho, then to Morita Washi the finest paper supplier in Kyoto to buy some rather beautiful Japanese wood block prints of Samurai courtship, again passing through the downtown markets, and pontocho area having already seen a variety of expensive crafts, from the scintillating woven art of Shosui Kaku, through several Japanese craft emporiums to the paper shops.

The 12 days here have stretched out endlessly and at the time time we have been so fully occupied that I have had little chance to write. This is partly a function of the unique way of life at Tani House, a very special Japanese style guest house for Westerners, which we first stayed at in 1984 and whose land lady Mrs. Tani has been doing the same good thing ever since the 1970s. Tani House is famous and she does a really neat job of making it personally pleasant, keeping the whole process going smoothly including providing simple but varied breakfast fare every morning and a kitchen where you can cook, a small bath house and a series of quaint traditional Japanese sleeping rooms of various sizes with futons and floor mattresses.

Japanese style dwelling involves living on the floor with paper thin walls, so that every rustle in the room next door echoes like thunder, and any chance of a romantic liaison depends on finding odd times when everyone is out. Because its up a small alley, getting a free wireless internet connection to produce the blog requires walking out of the little cul-de-sac and down the lane to huddle on a street corner typing with one hand, although a laptop is provided in the foyer for a small fee for ordinary internet use.

Mrs Tani taking a bow at Tani House

Christine in our small room.

Box-shaped bamboo ceiling

We have read some critical reviews of Tani House when writing this claiming it is dirty and the futons are damp. There are actually several places she runs including the 'annex' so we can;t speak for the others, but we found Tani House fine as a place to stay for two weeks on a travelers budget.

The big room at Tani House

Our only real problem was a completely objectionable American guy next door who insisted on pacing round his room at 4 in the morning coughing and smoking cigars until our little room filled with stale tar smoke so we hardly gt any sleep. The morning before we left I finally baled him up in the kitchen and gave him a piece of my mind in no uncertain terms in front of all the guests.

The cemetery next to Tani House.

The main thoroughfare Kitaöji-döri just outside the small street leading to Tani House.

Chique restaurants and shops in the main thoroughfare.

Tonight I went to visit Funaoka Onsen, the traditional Japanese bath house nearby which contains old wood carved panels of the Russo-Japanese war, as well as a ceiling display of Tengu, the red-faced penis-nosed mythological guardian figure that appears in both Buddhist and Shinto temples and festivals here, as well as some love hotels, whose long nose originally came from the beak of a bird of prey, as which is regarded largely as an evil spirit in Buddhism but is a guardian protector in Shinto.

Funaoka Onsen

Funaoka Onsen

There follows a series of images of the streets of North West Kyoto heading south from Tani House, many of which are narrow and have distinctive architecture.

How on earth do they get this car out?

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