Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Japan 2: Kyoto and The City of Dead

High up a steep hill, overlooking Kyoto, we found another, much quieter city.

The only break from the stillness was the occasional sorties of the graveyard's sentinel-crows.

It was like a terrace in a huge stadium, the dead silently watching over the city below, making sure everyone in Kyoto behaves themselves.
When you get to the very top, you get an incredible view over the city of the dead, and the city of the living beyond it, with only a thin layer of trees separating the two.

Forgive the pretentiousness, and my ignorance of appropriate Japanese cultural references, but it made me think of 'The Dead' by James Joyce (minus the snow).

Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.

Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.


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