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Golden Palace / 12 April 2011

photo of a stone lion decorating a rooftop, against a blue sky

One of the fantastic roof decorations found on all sorts of buildings in Japan. Photo © Gini

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I sit in a swirl
of good luck.
A teasing wind
blows it toward me
and I laugh
into the dancing storm.
At night, undressing
for bed, a
confetti of
delicate blossom
escapes from my
clothes to the floor.

I wish, in this
circle of blessings,
and dream
of my memories.

I sit in a swirl of good luck. A teasing wind blows it toward me and I laugh into the dancing storm. At night, undressing for bed, a confetti of delicate blossom escapes from my clothes to the floor.

I wish, in this circle of blessings, and dream of my memories.

I have seen Kinkakuji, the Golden Palace, in books and it has also been on my wish list of places to visit. SP declares that we are to investigate the buses, so we buy a ticket and queue. All the buses have wheelchair symbols on them and a button to press for assistance.

As the first bus arrives we make eye contact with the driver, but he ignores us. The bus fills up and drives off.

The second bus comes ten minutes later, and seeing us first in the queue, the driver gets out the ramp. This time we go too. I have to curl into a ball to cope with the travel, and it is still painful, but we get there.

The day has become hot and very sunny and the Golden Palace, with it's two upper stories covered in gold leaf, really does shine impressively, both in the shimmering air and in the surrounding water. The garden around it is peaceful in spite of all the visitors; the cherry trees are in full bloom.

Kyoto is popular with Japanese tourists too, and of course still hosts all those people who are scared of being in Tokyo right now.

Reluctantly we move on. Kyoto has hundreds of shrines and Temple complexes and between the planed destinations are wonderful, stumble-upon discoveries. The stone garden in the next Temple complex, covers a vast area, but also has plants and many shrines.

Kyoto has such a different flavour to Tokyo, being visibly surrounded by wooded, mountainous countryside. There are more plants on the even tinier side streets, and the side streets are the important places. The big highways are not much more than conduits from one district to the next.

We have decided to explore the local trains to get back to the hotel, so once again we move on. Around the station area we peer nosily into peoples gardens. Wonderful gems, with beautifully shaped trees, carefully placed stones, bamboo (how do people keep it under control?), water and a strange and hideous figure that crops up everywhere.

Often made of plastic in garish colours, it might represent a bear, with a beak-like snout; it might be male and female and it is rather fat. I have called it the lady-boy owl-bear. I'm probably being disrespectful, and certainly ignorant, I need to do some research.

Everywhere the cherry trees are blossoming; towards evening it gets windier and the petals dance through the air like snow. Petals landing on you bring good luck.

The little local train works well, it gets just as crowded as the bus, but I cope better. The days still cool rapidly in the evenings and after a short rest in our rooms, we wrap up and wander off to find food.

A local Chinese-Japanese restaurant is warm and aromatic. I have a fish and cabbage dish that warms me, though the taste is very mild. The other guests are amused by my chopsticks - I eat with them and I wear an arrangement of them in my hair. They attempt to communicate with me.

The people of Kyoto seem not to practice the Narrow Focus quite as strictly as the people of Tokyo.