Kyoto--?Ive Note ?Walk, New ?Alaska?

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for many centuries (794-1869). Tokyo has been the capital for little more than 100 years.

Riding the "Bullet Train" to Kyoto was a smooth, exhilirating experience at 100+ m.p.h. We whizzed past Mt Fuji Fujiyama, looking for all the world like a gigantic vanilla ice cream cone!

Kyoto was infinitely charming, full of history and culture. It was the first week of April, and cherry blossoms were everywhere--on the grounds of our hotel, the lovely old Miyako, all theoughout the lobby, in the elevators, along the corridors, and in every guest room. We even found a spray in our bathroom! What a delight to see "CORN FRAKES" on the breakfast menu!

Kyoto seemed far from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. We paid fascinating visits to the cloisonné studios, the lacquer works, the jade carvers, the celebrated potters, the pearl divers, and pearl fitters, the goldsmiths, and the silkworm farms and silk weavers. Magic stuff that we had heard about all of our lives. Now it was happening before our very eyes! Absolutely astounding!

We were thrilled by the ?solemn, angular ritual dances and plaintive chants of the white-robed, red-sashed Buddhist priestesses. What a contrast with the wild exotic gyrations of the Geisha choruses accompanied only by drums and a flute! They did more with their clothes on than a bunch of "strippers" could! ?Strange! It is not possible to exaggerate the respect, grace, and politeness of the ritual tea ceremony. I never tasted such bitter tea, but I pretended to like it!

Our group toured many Royal palaces and mansions of the ancient SHOGUNS or warlords. One of the most interesting was the Nijo or "Cricket" Palace for the floors were specially designed to sing, or creak or sqeak, in order that no would-be-assassin could approach the Emperor undetected in the night.

In the last palace stop of our tour I was listening intently to the guide explaining the handsome TORI gate and the history of the ancient building, when I woke up to the fact that my beautiful wife Fay was missing!

Boy, was I alarmed! Thoughts of kidnapping, oriental opium dens, and white slavery flashed through my "dome" as I retraced my footsteps. I crossed an arched rainbow bridge over a small lagoon. No sign of Fay.

Then through the cherry blossoms I saw her, on the edge of the palace grounds. She was bargaining with a little old man at an art stall for a lovely watercolor, block-print of a Japanese country home, also complete with cherry trees in bloom.

I was so glad to have ?o?? my Irish-American "Cho-Cho-San", Madame Butterfly, Geisha Girl. Sometime I'll show you her photo in the gorgeous red-silk, gold-sashed ceremonial kimono (a wedding gown in Japan) that she wore to giver her travelogue to her Book Club in Tucson.

Curtiss H. Anderson