Day 1: 12 October 2003

We arrived in Kyoto around lunchtime and went directly to the hotel. From there we went to Kinkakuji by bus.

golden The place was very much crowded because of the holidays.  I had not been back to Kinkakuji since my very first visit to Kyoto in 1995.










From there we made our way to Ryoan-ji. On the way we stopped at a nice ceramics and glass gallery. We spent almost all the rest of the afternoon in  Ryoan-ji, just contemplating the Zen garden of Soami and the other smaller rock gardens.  It was extremely peaceful and luckily enough, perhaps because the weather was not so nice, we were almost the only ones visiting. It was amazingly relaxing.  So we stayed  there until closing time.  We then wandered  around,  through the small lanes ,getting small glimpses of the other  temples in the precinct.  ryoan-ji2

It was almost dark when we took the bus and headed towards Takashimaya. We had time to visit both Tachikichi and  Takashimaya.  In Takashimaya, there  was a very nice, one man-show,  ceramics  exhibition. More about this later.



After some deliberation and a walk through Ponto-sho area we decided to have a Sukiyaki , in a private room. The food was quite tasty! 










Day 2: 13 October 2003

This was a rainy day. After breakfast we headed to the East....starting with Ginkakuji, Despite the rain, once again, there were a lot of people but as always the sight is exhilarating. From there we walked along philosopher's path, then visiting Honen-in, Anrakuji, Reikanji and Eikando. We had lunch (late) not far from Nanzenji temple. We then went to the Nomura museum which hosts one of the most exquisite (though small) collections of  ceramics. 

We just walked and wandered around. I had tried to locate a street which I knew was in this area and which has quite a few ceramics and painting galleries. These galleries are unlike the shops around Kyomizudera. It was really luck that we found this street.  The gallery is called Okazaki Gallery, in Okazaki part of Kyoto and the street is Ensyouji-cho(?). The interesting story starts here.

In the first gallery, we were well received by the owner who spoke good English and gave us a very nice introduction to the artists and art he exhibits. In fact this was after I had shown a strong interest, I should say I fell in love, with a rather small sake cup. He explained that this was by a local renowned potter called Yasutaka SHIMIZU, son of the famous Uichi SHIMIZU who is a living national treasure. Unfortunately the cup was rather pricey. He tried to convince me that considering the artist and the quality, it was not so expensive and that in other galleries in Kyoto it would easily be twice the price. The reason it was cheaper here he argued was because, for a long time, the Shimizu family and the family of the gallery owner had a long friendship. Nonetheless, it was an extremely difficult decision to make: buy the piece. I decided I would think about it.

In another gallery on the same street, we just happened to witness the preparation of a new exhibition. Though the exhibition was not formally open they let us tour the show. The artist and the gallery owner took
pictures of all of us together. The artists, Haruaki TSUSHIMA has, last month, sent me a picture with a nice note and invitation for my next visit to Japan. He lives in Katano.

Still the YS sake cup with a tortoise hidden under the glaze, this a trademark of Yasutaka Shimizu, was on my mind.....


We walked in Gion going through the backstreets and settled in one of the nice small restaurants where we were offered a nice seat by the window overlooking a small garden. You can easily guess what we ate....    


I was now in a big dilemma. This sake cup with the hidden ``KAME?", could not get out of my mind. Moreover the following day would be essentially our last day in Kyoto. Yet the original plan was to go to the Kabuki theather which started rather early, and in the afternoon we had to meet Uematsu-san!. My idea was that if Yasutaka Shimizu indeed has his house in Kyoto (but where?) I could certainly try to find it a and try to have a look at more hidden kame! but this might take some time before  the Kabuki and perhaps even after. In any case I had no address anyway.....When we reached the hotel I decided that I will look for Master YS while Genevieve watched the Kabuki.


Day 3: 14 October 2003, ceramics hunt vs Kabuki...

We started the day slowly. We first went to the Minamiza for the Kabuki. Queing for the tickets and also the food box for Genevieve. I then left Genevieve. My plan was the following. I had been a good customer at Tachikichi and I still needed to pick up a cup I had seen there on the first day. Being in contact with so many potters, Tachikichi people should be able to help me with tracking YS house, if within reach in a reasonable time. Tachikichi as you know is on Shijo street and thus within walking distance from Minamiza. However as you know, in between, there is Takashimaya. So I stopped at Takashimaya first and went straight to the 6th (5th?) floor  to look at the ceramics exhibition. There were indeed some extremely nice pieces by a young potter named Komaki TETSUPEI, quite pricey but stretching a bit, still affordable. So I thought if I have no luck with YS and could still come here just before or just after the Kabuki finsihes, I could get still get a nice present,....especially that in the afternoon this will be the last day of the exhibition and that the artist will exceptionally be present........


First Tachikichi. The piece I wanted was there. While warpping it they made me sit and even offered green tea. This was the ideal opportunity to inquire about YS. They were very helpful. They knew Shimizu-san and after consulting some of their books they gave me the address and tried to explain where it was. It was in the Kyomizuzaka area, or so I thought. Since I knew roughly the area there was no need to even take a taxi and it seemed I had some time before the end of the Kabuki when we were supposed to meet Uematsu-san.





It turned out it was not really in Kyomizu-zaka. The address I had was written in Japanese. So I had better taken a taxi. It was in Gojo-zaka. I knew this area but in fact I had never ventured in this area much beyond the bypass (Gojo bypass). I had never thought there would be some nice things to see along the bypass. Anyway after asking a few people and under a heavy rain I finally found the house.


It is a nice, relatively old, traditional Japanese house. The shop seemed closed. I looked through an opening in the gate. The was a dogl. The more I looked the more the dog barked until a woman appeared. I asked her whether the shop was closed. Until now, I do not know whether it was but the woman was king enough to let me in! Fantastic.

I had plenty of time to look at all the pottery and the books about YS. Needless to say that there were more than a couple of sake cups, all different but all like the one I saw the previous day. After  enquiring about one of the cups, it turned out to be 1/3 of the price in the Gallery in Okazaki! I, of course, bought the cup and on top of that, from the Master's house. Unfortunately the master was not in the house. The woman was his daughter. Since, by then, it was raining quite heavily the woman gave me an umbrella. The master's umbrella! which later Genevieve lost.....





This is the cup















With my precious sake cup I run to the Kabuki theather through the back streets from Gojo-zaka that lead to the Gion area and Minami-za. I arrived just in time, eating a few fruits and biscuits on the way. I waited for Genevieve and Uematsu-san.  As soon as Genevieve appeared I told her I had bought the cup and at a profit on top of that! Since I was wise to wait, and psychologically having made a profit, perhaps my budget still allowed for a small folly. Could we, with Uematsu-san, quickly go to Takashima-ya next door?

This is what we did. We met the artist, Komaki Tetsupei and I made a  folly!








We had a very nice time with Uematsu-san despite the rain. We first went to Sanjusangen-do. I do not know how many times I went there now. It is always fascinating especially looking at all the statues which from a distance seem all alike but on very close look, one starts discerning subtle differences, then preferring a couple that we would recognize from a distance.  From there  we  went to  Kyomizu-dera. I should say that we used taxi throughout, but I think from sanjusangen-do to Kyomizu-dera one can easily go by bus. At Kyomizu-dera, it was getting quite dark. We walked up. It was nice to have a nice view of Kyoto by night. We wandered around the area of the temple, walked slowly down to catch another taxi. We went to a nice restaurant which I am sure Shimizu-sensei knows, ``Ganko" Nijoen.. after dinner we had a stroll in the nice garden of the house. We then went to the hotel. The day after we were already returning to Tokyo and taking the plane back to France.