Shuffling Tokyo into Kyoto-More Than Just a Word Scramble

While a simple shifting of letters can transform Tokyo into Kyoto, the experience of these two Japan’s is vastly different.

river walk with umbrellas
over Kamu river.Kyoto

Go to both but soon you will realize once is not enough.

at nijo temple carving kyoto blog
above the gate at Nijo

Initially, let the overwhelm guide you. Succumb to the mechanics and efficiency of the pavement and population. Be hypnotized by politeness. Be patient in chaos. It is our chaos, not the chaos of being here.

train line sign kyoto blog
one of various subway line guides
density of language
you can find it if you can name it
tstutura bookstore
we understand english kyoto taxi
outside Kyoto station

Meander narrow streets. Absorb the density of an unfamiliar alphabet. Adapt to ways of every day. Drown in this landscape of people and place.

kyoto morning2
kyoto from the Miyako hotel

Kyoto. Go. Once is not enough. Return to unwrap its veils. Get closer to its soul.

faces woman shop streetcleaner in morning kyoto blog
Early morning shopkeeper
bellringing kurama
At Mnt. Kurama
traffic cone in bamboo blog pic
Dressing a road bumper
morning run over kyoto bridge kyoto blog
Morning run over the Kamu

Packing up from TABF and leaving Tokyo allows us to deflate.

TABF closing day

Visiting Kyoto, for me, is like seeing a movie, a play, reading a book over and over. Each visit I see through a different lens. I hear different sounds. Feel different moods even though I walk the same streets.

temple field trip
Field trip on Mnt. Kurama
sculptures in nijo garden kyoto blog
In the gardens of Nijo Castle

monks in starbucks

faces mom and son on train kyoto blog

There are over 1800 shrines and temples in Kyoto. We have seen the ones you’re supposed to see. Ones we researched. Ones we learned we missed. Ones we stumbled upon. For gardens. For Buddha’s. For reflections on water. For gates. For climbs. For meditation. For sounds. For trees. For monks. For a Shojin meal. To light candles

staues children at kurama
Mnt. Kurama
reflection atmoss temple
Saihi-ji.The moss temple
mnt.kurama roof blog pic
Mnt. Kurama
lighting candles blog pic jpg
For special souls. Mom.Dad.Ari.Sophie.Hedy

We approached our fourth trip to Kyoto casually, quietly. Other than Sao-ji , the “moss temple” which requires advance tickets, we left our five days fluid.

advance ticket saoji kyoto blog

Maybe we’ll do this. That would be nice. If we have time. Should we go there again? That sounds interesting. We don’t have to do that again. Let’s find something new.

Maybe we’ll bike along the river. Let’s plan food a little better. Let’s connect with friends we don’t know of a friend back home.

Let’s see what we find. Let’s move slower. Maybe visit one thing each morning. Walk the afternoon. Be together. Be light. Appreciate. Try to calm. Be aware. Breathe.

river walk

kyoto gate for kyoto blog

mezzuzah on door kyoto

lantern path at kurama kyoto blog
The path up Mnt. Kurama

And so we welcomed Kyoto and Kyoto embraced us.

paper mache dog kyoto blog

mnt kurama entrance statue kyoto blog

faces matcha maker


frog coin pond

While I reference and share some of the places we visited, I devote this post to the feeling of Kyoto. Share the faces. Things I felt and saw. Hope they magically pop out from a two dimension presentation to stir up joy and spirit and appreciation.

toga explaining chant

monk closeup starbucks sign

faces child on scooter kyoto blog

It was an odd time to be away from home. Fires raging to the north, south and east of us. Friends and family scurrying in the night to evacuate. Our little main street in Gualala becoming a safe haven for people fleeing with perhaps one suitcase. Without a plan. Fear and sadness filling a crowded space between passengers in cars. Families broken apart by death. Unknown future. A world-class industry devastated. Communities that look like the one outside your window annihilated. Singed animals. Loyal pets who ran in fear leaving owners to make hard decisions. Puppies waiting, standing guard in piles of ash. Falling trees engulfed in fire stopping cars, people trying to escape. Frenzied wildlife, an audience, and symphony to our coastal town governed by Mother Nature frantically searching.  A new-found sense of caring for helpless foxes and bobcats and creatures of the nocturnal looking for water, food, and cover. Familiar kennels under mandatory evacuation.

The safety net of Gualala, CA. October 9.

The ocean opening its unconditional cool and freshness beneath vapored skies. And the wind, most times a drama to watch now an apocalyptic slide show.  I read about this from a distance,  on a device as if it was removed like the hurricanes in the Caribbean and states out of familiarity.  And I am at a distance from my neighbors and cousins and friends and places I buy fresh fruit and vegetables and my mother-in-law helpless in a home in her own world of Alzheimer’s. And the kennel Woof! goes to evacuated on our first day in Kyoto with staff members who lost their homes.  Eerily, we made a different decision for this trip and he was safe in Virginia.

The blue spot between the smoke cloud cover-home.

How do I put my footing in Kyoto make sense? I hope that Kyoto in its magical way helped me find that resolution. I hope in some way it helps anyone in turmoil of questions without answers, priorities and lifting heaviness.

morning run
An espresso and iced-tea  run through Kyoto
moss temple buildings

mezzuzah on door kyoto

Kyoto. October 2017. Intentionally, without much narrative for you to interpret in a time when we need to make sense of our own stories or create them, inspire our thoughts and feelings and see what we can with our own eyes.

calvino and coin laundry
Brain and laundry on spin cycle

Maybe that is the reason we were in Kyoto.

nijo reflection kyoto blog
Reflections and light installation

and all the reasons to come back home and be grateful.

journey home faces billymark
Long journey home begins with Shinkansen Train from Kyoto to Tokyo
Woof! First night in Alexandria home

Because we do not know about tomorrow.

weeping cherry
Kyoto. October 13.
burningtree santa rosa
Santa Rosa. October 13th.




“So, how was the trip?” (Inca Trail, December, 2014)

Two days back and struggling for words until I had an email from a colleague early in the morning asking me, “So, how was the trip?  An unleashed stream of consciousness locked for days powered out.  Saved for later interpretation and process it freed me to begin my sharing.


I have read that once you are able to put the overwhelming into words it loses it’s divinity. The intention of the awesome, the majestic or even the essence is to leave the recipient speechless because it is there in the middle of that energy where there is engagement with the divine, a very personal and wordless experience. Important to note that my use of the word divine here is giving respect to, acknowledging and grateful in being able to feel, embrace and trust the unexplained.


Dozens of labeled plastic bags filled with what-if’, don’t forgets, all weather preparation, reservations, confirmation numbers and directions across cities and altitudes are now wrinkled, half filled or empty. Shoes are a new permanent color of dirty. There are snags, stains and cuts in clothing. Prescription and over the counter med containers are also empty. One home crafted walking stick from California redwoods left behind to our guide, Marko, as a relay of wisdom and achievement. Over a thousand photos have been lifted from SD cards, at this moment only to have xx.xx.xx jpg as identifiers.

MP.machupicchu.huayanapicchu1MP.incatrail.viewfromtop1MP.incatrail.groupstart1 MP.incatrailmorningwash.jess.linds MP.incatrail.sanctuarydayroomMP.incatrail.nightcamp1

Bruises and pains are dissipating.

The exhaustion and lessening patience levels from the thirty-three hour journey home drained from the body into familiar pillows and beds. Stomachs grateful for our basic familiar kitchen ingredients. Returns of stresses and to-do’s left behind are embraced with a new outlook and sense of personal control. Yet, each diluting moment seems to have been replaced with one of these “essences.” Wordless overwhelming moments continue. The pulse felt in the bottom of my feet as they made contact with the ground in the Andes below, in the middle of and above the clouds beats strong as I now walk my familiar California soil. There is a connected heartbeat between the mountains, the unexplained and my internal pilot light.

MP.incatrail.cake MP.incatrail.billybackstrecth MP.huaynapicchu.rope1 MP.incatrail.goodmorning.tea

It has taken me time to get to the issue at hand. Blogging, recording, retelling, sharing and trying to answer the question, “How was the trip?”   I realize that all the blogs I read, all the questions I asked, the chronicles, the diaries, the daily episodes and all the information I sought out as I prepared is not the task at my hands upon returning.

walking sticks MP2Lindseyhat MP.incatrail.cloudforest1MP2MarketCorn MP.incatrail.finish.group1MP.machupicchu.huayanapicchu1

After Day #3 of acclimatizng in Cusco I walked into the mountains and at that moment for the next four days there was no separation between minutes, hours, days, steps, elevations, fears, joys, doubts, pride, determination, insecurity. The unexplained danced with reality. Loved ones from the past hitched into our minds and walked beside us at dfferent times. Shadows alongside us had heartbeats. Every mountain seemed to stretch their arms around us. Clouds cooled us. Sun warmed us. Fog created a clarity. The sky wet us and dried us. Rocks provided grips and grass provided footing. Flowers provided moments.

MP.ollytay.morningmarket1 mp.lima airport.bagsplastic bags

The world inside the Andes provided mystery and courage. While there were questions each step of the way there were answers. Permission was given to let the non answered questions just be or wait to be answered when the time is right.

There was a new felt joy witnessing the awe my two daughters and husband were experiencing. There was concern in their challenges. There was a level of pride not felt before.

So, how do I capture the essence and share it without the explanation? It is in that place where the real trip lives.


I spent hours selecting a small group of photos for this writing. They were all taken at a time during this trip. They do not need explanation or captions. The story in each photo is for the reader to feel, experience, interpret and personalize.  They are not in any sequential order.

Subsequent writings will witness a specific piece of the trip. To share. To relive. To make sense of. To question. To remind.

My love, pride, appreciation and gratitude to my daughter’s Lindsey and Jess and my husband, Billy cannot be limited by words. We will always make memories.

mp.IT.jess.linds MP2familyphotomaskshats

Finally, to pachumama who allowed me to walk through her heart and soul while feeling my own.


Ready.Set.Go! Machu Picchu. Getting to Cusco. Days #1.#2.#3.

“Hey, what are your thoughts of going to Machu Picchu next December?” “Dad! It’s only February, you’ve got to be kidding!” Both responded similarly. “I know, but it takes planning. A lot. All I need is yes, no and window of dates.”

Fast forward. Friday, December 19th Billy and I get to Atlanta from San Francisco. Meet-up is on Saturday. Jess from Baltimore. Lindsey from DC

girls on plane

Both in around 1PM. Billy and I the night before, midnight. 5:19PM flight to Lima. Overnight in Lima. Sunday to Cusco at 11AM. Arrive Cusco 12:30PM. Planning. Everyone has one bag. I checked three.

They say that Machuu Picchu is the place to forget everything and get lost in the magic and embrace the spirituality. Push yourself physically, mentally, intellectualy. Life changing. And then we start reading of all the things not to forget in preparation to getting to a place to forget. Odd. My stuff neatly compressed in a number of plastic bags, each labeled. Rain pants, gaiters, hat, short sleeved shirts, camera memory cards, meds over the counter, meds prescription , long sleeved shirts, base layer pants etc.

hiking bootsA greater number of bags, still not organized,

plastic bagsare labeled with items that start with “extra” or “for.” Rain pants –Lindsey; rain jacket-Jess; everyone- including (but not limited to) 25 granola bars, quick burst energy gummy bears, packets of instant electrolytes for everyne, throat lozenges, extra daypack, water bottles, obnoxious matching warm socks for sleeping, sleeping bag liners, playing cards, flashlights, guidebooks, bungie cords and carabiners. Even a portable home crafted menorah, candles and aluminum foil to catch dripping wax. Home baked zucchini bread sliced for quick grab and go. In a separate bag meant for ski’s are eight hand carved and oiled walking sticks made from branches of redwoods found along the way on the north California coast.  Billy packs his bag with extras for all from his logical and organized point of view and still has plenty of room in his bag.  Batteries, flashlights, individual bags of trail mix and prepares for Verizon out of country emergency contact while readying his mom while he is away and making sure freezer and mom miantenace is perfectly prepped.  We operate in balance.,

walking sticksMy master list compiled from required items, good ideas from multiple lists, blogs and recommendations. Ideas, don’t forgets and knowing my family. Final check in’s with each other.  “Dad, can you bring an extra pair of socks?” “Hi Dad, do you have my flight confirmation number?” “What time should Uber come?”

Prepping for rainy season was easy as we are in the middle of rainstorms in the Bay Area. Nice to know how all these tech type materials work and have real time learning lessons in differences between rain resistant, wick, waterproof, quick-dry and lightweight. A definite one-up over marketing.

My personality disorders come in handy in planning a trip very far out and making lists that have columns titled “need, suggested or ntw.” NTW is the not to worry column which basically means needed but will be provided by the trip leader (see second note on plastic bags above). Lists, check marks, spreadsheets, to-do’s, confirmation numbers, reservation dates et al. Fuel for a control freak.

The 90 minute delay text from Delta was concerning and comforting. Concerning because I could not see five feet outside the living room window and I got soaked going to the bank. Comforting because there was no need to “still be at the airport at original departure time” as our plane was not there. The extra time was one of those found periods of time that makes you wonder how the heck you would have been ready if it was not there. Not to mention shutting down work for almost two weeks.

Arrangements were seamless. Shocking. Arrival in Atlanta. Overnight in an airport hotel. Late night snack. Back to airport in AM and easy check-in. Even got a half hour at the gym since the wish-list of physical prep for this trek was barely filled.

Expected texts began Saturday morning. “At airport.” “Checked in.” “Checked bag all the way through to Lima?” “What time is the flight to Lima?” “Will text when I land.” “Where’s meet up point?” “Jess coming into A10 at 12:44. Lindsey coming into C55 at 12:52.” “Dad and Billy will meet you at E10.” “On train in wrong direction at airport.” “Hungry.”

By 1:30 PM we were all at E10. Smiling. More relaxed than all the days and weeks before. Enough chargers to fuel up the phones, different versions.  One of the marvelous things of parenting adult kids is that needs evolve differently as they grow up.  I remember soaking a Barbie doll in the bathtub and now I’m bringing rain gear for a rabbi and a kindergarten teacher for a hike in the Andes.

lima peru gateDay #1 basically continues into Day #2 or #3 depending when and who started where. We arrive in Lima. Slow process of passport checks. Slower process for two of the three bags at carousel #1. Short guy with a sign “Welcome, Gross Group (I’m used to it) was comforting. Billboards surround the airport made me think that Machu Picchu Tourism and Coca Cola sponsor the entire country. Overnight.

manhattan innThen to Cusco.

cocoa leaf teabag

I Never Read Either…..A Love Story Leads to a Book Fair

-basel #4

HALT sign

Before I write on I Never Read, the book fair itself, a short departure which tells of  the passion that created  and continues to drive this extraordinary book fair.

INR Faces 7

It would be simple to write a sweet story of Evaline Wuthrich and Johannis Willi.  Thomas Keller, while not one in part  of their love story is the third essential person in the love story of the I Never Read fair.

It is easy to struggle for written words to describe their passion, energy and devotion found on their faces, in their actions and in the people that surround them building, creating, tirelessly available  and selling to make I Never Read beautifully unique.

Let’s look at the beginning of their press release as it presents I Never Read.

Read…. differently.

In June 2013 the book fair I Never Read, Art Book Fair Basel will take place for the second time. The fair focusses exclusively on print media, hereby distinguishing itself from other fairs and events surrounding Art Basel. Publishers, book sellers, artists and printers will exhibit their unique publication programs to an international audience, showing and selling pieces ranging from artist books, catalogues, monographies and journals through to zines. Thanks to guest appearances at “The NY Art Book Fair” in New York and “The LA Art Book Fair” in Los Angeles the I Never Read-Team has been able to broadly establish it’s fair within the past year, resulting in rising interest of participation. This year, over 80 participants from 20 different countries will take part in the show.

But how it and they started isn’t there.  When I asked Evaline and Johannes about their beginning their answer made me smile as I looked around at the set-up and the faces of everyone in the bare room.

We sat on the edge of the stage in a main room of Volkshaus.  The venue a carefully selected location only minutes away from Art B’ah’sel.  Unlike that fair the only thing separating the artists were the edges of wooden tables that seemed as if they were off the same assembly line in one run of inventory.  Resembling  a communal restaurant, this one for savoring publications.  Folding chairs were set up behind each table, two, sometimes three.  This main room of Volkshaus at one time was a radio station which explained the booth now used for performances and announcements and the padded walls hiding repurposed storage space.

setup tables early

Evaline looks as if she could be the director and producer, perhaps the writer as well for an art school documentary project.  A subtle sweet smile with focused eyes, knees up supporting a mac.  Johannes, while talking to you with a little more with 360 vision but not the double cheek kiss kind is making sure that each piece and person in the room was coming together.  He could  would fit right in at a local race where his friends would be able to pick him out by his colorful shorts.  When she is off the mac and he is off patrol it’s easy to see them as the binding of the book fair.

johannes and evelyn

Thomas, topped with a hat or baseball cap turned not quite backwards has a smile that takes up most of his face when he is not concerned about something.

thomas keller

I was prepared to ask Evaline and Johannes the back story of I Never Read.  Although, I met Johannes for the first time at the NY Art Book Fair last year where I chatted with him when I passed his table  I didn’t quite understand what he was doing.   He basically asked me why I was there and then asked  for any zines that he would be happy to take back to his home town of Basel to show at his fair during Art Basel week.  I shared that with Billy and returned with samples from his  collection and made our contribution.

Johannes seemed like a nice guy and the drive to get your art out in the “zine”isphere trumps the need to put too much research and focus on the distribution channels.  Several months later we met Johannes again as he had the zine table just opposite us at the LA Art Book Fair.  I had less conversation with him there than the one time chat in NY even though our tables were faced opposite each other.  On the last day there was a bit more dialogue between Billy and Johannes.  A few months later Billy received his email inviting us to show at the 2nd I Never Read Fair in Basel.

johannes side image

My English with traces of the places I have lived even though never out of the USA probably seemed more broken to Evaline and Johannes than their’s seemed to me. I had no prepared questions.

“So, how did you get this thing going?”  They looked at each other with an expression which  betrayed their disagreement on a shared version.

INR-Johannes Go Team

“Well, me met at a bar or something and she had this idea which I actually had before and then we thought how great to do it together and here we are!”

The smiles and a few chuckling mumbled words as they leaned into each other were not scripted even though they have probably been asked this many times before.  For a moment it feels as though you are the bartender watching this first encounter.

Johannes continued. “Actually, we know each other a very long time.  Back to high school But I was too cool for her and she was too cool for me so we never really spoke.”  He looked around the room, his arm not totally around her shoulders.  “And now we are really cool together. Totally cool.”

I looked around.  The tables were filling.  Wheels on suitcases sliding across the floor.  A little hammering here and there.  Tape bing torn by teeth, a very different sound than ducktape.   Staplers. Some loud impulsive exclamations during set-up crisis.  Borrowing this or that.  Grabbing an idea or giving one from next to you or behind you.  A careless bump into a box.

All of this going-on making the soundtrack of the this fair conducted and improvised by these art book artists and publishers, many of which have day jobs and several who are staying with friends or at bnbs well outside the $15.00 sandwich zone.  And while the languages were as varied as one would expect in an international art fair it was  the language of making art easily understood and easily communicated.

thomas with cap

Thomas was lining up the tables.  They were raw and beautiful.  Not attached by screws but pegs that kept them fastened and would make storage, set-up and breakdown efficient.  These were not rushed. In another room near the front entrance were bookshelves and cases.

Astonished and presumptive I asked him where he got them.

“Get them?  Like buy them in a store?  Oh, we didn’t get these anywhere.  We make these.  My father and me.”  He brushed some invisible dust off of one of the table tops as if he was cleaning  crumbs off an infant’s  chin.

“You made them?”

“Yes, yes.  You like them?  45 of them. Come look.”  He showed me how they were fastened.  How they collapsed and how they would be stacked. “My dad and me.  We make maybe two  a week.  But I’m very upset because it rained the day we needed to carry  many to our storage place and now with this, uhm, hmm, heat, you know like the damp weather,”  I sensed  that he that felt that he was not explaining what he meant. He used his hand to explain further,

“Warp?” I asked or stated

“Yes, yes, wvarp.”  He ran his hands across the wood  almost as if he was performing pilates on it.

In my mind it was easy to see his father and him struggling against time and weather.  Working together.  A dad giving his son’s dream some focus calming the anxieties of his youthful drive and passion. I met his dad on the last day along with Thomas’ girlfriend who was breaking down the tables using a hammer type of tool moving from one table to another as his father stacked wood.  This was the I Never Read book fair creation.

After that, I realized that the best way to tell the story of I Never Read is best told through the images of energy and passion of the I Never Read artists, the helpers and the helpers of the helpers with their sons and daughters and friends and friends of friends.

Putting it together.

artist prep inr 1

art unpack

inr artist setup 2

inr art set up 6


breaking down table





INR setup artists with cartons

inr setup4And so the love story while it may include or even started with lovers at one time too cool for each other and friends the true love story is the love of artists and artists making books.  Giving them space ,voice, community and belief.

How cool is that?

next up.  the artists and the art