Hotei

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October 30, 2014
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Hotei is an Asian folkloric figure originating in China where he is called Budai. His name 布袋 basically means cloth bag, and refers to the sack he always carries with him. In Japan he is one of the Seven Lucky Gods (七福神) and one tradition is that rubbing his belly will bring you good luck.

Traditionally, Hotei is depicted as fat, bald, wearing a simple robe and carrying a cloth bag. He is poor, carrying his few possessions in his sack, but always happy and content. When he meets Zen practioners he immediately demands of them a coin, but all the money he gains he uses to buy candies for children.

Kōan: Hotei would wander through the marketplace handing out candies to children. Once Hotei was confronted on the street by a Zen scholar who challenged him with the question: “What is the meaning of Zen?”
Hotei’s reply was to stop in his tracks, throw down his sack and remain motionless.
Dissatisfied with this response the scholar questioned him further: “What is the expression of Zen?”
Hotei immediately picked up his sack and carried on his way, laughing and handing out candies to the children that swarmed about him.

The Hotei sculpture above is part of an extensive collection belonging to Randy Channell and can be found at his cafe, Ran Hotei.

Oddly enough on the day that I visited the Ran Hotei cafe a large party of costumed children came in trick or treating for Halloween, and there in the midst of them all was Randy, for all the world just like Hotei, with a big smile on his face, handing out his candies.

A First Moment of Mindfulness

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October 30, 2014
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moments-of-mindfulnessThe mind can go
in a thousand directions,
but on this beautiful path,
I walk in peace.
With each step,
a gentle wind blows.
With each step,
a flower blooms.

– Thích Nhất Hạnh

This is the first meditation in a book of 52 daily inspirations entitled Moments of Mindfulness by Thích Nhất Hạnh. “This book is designed so you can focus on one meditation as your practice for the week. You can carry this meditation with you throughout the whole week… The saying can help you to remain more mindful, aware, and happy even under difficult circumstances. You can read this meditation each morning right after waking up and again before you go to sleep. There are fifty-two meditations, so you can begin at any point in the year and continue with a different meditation each week for a full year.”

If you want the rainbow, you must have the rain

TV
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October 28, 2014
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Farewell Boardwalk Empire

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy — I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it —
Came out with a fortune last fall,
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn’t all...
- The Spell of the Yukon by Robert W. Service

nucky

Five seasons of finely crafted storytelling, immaculately presented and produced, with some of the best actors giving top performances, Boardwalk Empire finally came to a close on Sunday October 26th 2014. I just watched the final scene. I’ll miss Nucky Thompson. Damn, I’ll even miss that theme tune. That’s definitely a show I could go back to. If you haven’t seen it, well worth your time.

Bondan Prakoso ~ Ya Sudahlah

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October 27, 2014
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On our frequent visits to Balinese restaurant Wayang Bali (oh that tempeh! oh that banana tempura!) I keep hearing this song and I have come to like it. I have no idea what the lyrics mean, but it sounds pretty positive doesn’t it? Everything’s gonna be okay!

Bondan Prakoso (born May 8, 1982) is an Indonesian singer-songwriter, bass guitarist, and record producer. He is known as the former bassist of rock band Funky Kopral (1999–2003) and the lead singer of the rap rock collaboration band, Bondan Prakoso & Fade 2 Black (2005–present). From Wikipedia.

How I spent my summer…

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September 17, 2014
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With the exception of the odd weekend diversion and a four day break in Okinawa, I actually spent the bulk of the summer sat at this desk, trying to re-learn all the stuff I studied (and forgot) ten years ago. That was how I wanted to spend my summer and that is what I did. Summer did come to a bit of a crashing halt on September 1st however, when I suddenly fell sick – with mumps of all things. I have just spent the last two and a half weeks in a sorry kind of limbo where I couldn’t do much else but sleep. I am finally back to normal however, and will be heading back to work tomorrow exactly one week late.

Poor Mewby though, having nursed me kindly through the worst of it, has now taken up the mumps baton…

everything we think or perceive is fiction

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September 2, 2014
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Illustration of Borges’ “The Library of Babel”

“Today one could consider Borges the most important writer of the 20th Century,” says Suzanne Jill Levine, translator and general editor of the Penguin Classics five-volume Borges series. Why? “Because he created a new literary continent between North and South America, between Europe and America, between old worlds and modernity. In creating the most original writing of his time, Borges taught us that nothing is new, that creation is recreation, that we are all one contradictory mind, connected amongst each other and through time and space, that human beings are not only fiction makers but are fictions themselves, that everything we think or perceive is fiction, that every corner of knowledge is a fiction.”

From Is Borges the 20th Century’s most important writer? | BBC

One more for the scrapbook

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June 30, 2014
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DKW KVG
This month’s issue of Kyoto Visitor’s Guide features an interview with me about my ebook, Deep Kyoto: Walks.

…there is something very special about this city, a certain sense of peace and of promise in the air. It really is a pleasure to go for a walk here, for there is so much to see and discover! Not just the famous sites like the great view from the platform of Kiyomizu Temple, or the Zen rock garden of Ryoan-ji, but all those little out-ofthe-way places down the side-streets. Kyoto is packed with craft shops and cafes, galleries and gardens, bakeries, bars and tiny road-side shrines… And you are never far from nature either. The city is encircled on three sides by mountains, which provide wonderful hiking trails, or you can take a gentler stroll along one of the tree-lined rivers and canals that bring cool air deep into the center of the city. Going for a walk here really is a joy.

You can read the full interview online here: http://www.kyotoguide.com/ver2/thismonth/walking201407.html

And order Deep Kyoto: Walks here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KFM2J0C

One for the Scrapbook

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June 23, 2014
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Deep Kyoto: Walks appeared in the Japan Times at the weekend!
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Pat McCoy wrote,

“Deep Kyoto Walks” edited by Michael Lambe and Ted Taylor is the perfect guide for anyone who wants to get off Kyoto’s beaten tourist track. With personalized views of what to see and do in Kyoto — by people who have lived there for extended periods of time — it essentially offers a curated guide to one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Essays by a host of Kyoto residents (16 authors in all, including renowned travel writer Pico Iyer), cover various fields such as poetry, pottery, butoh dance, tea ceremony, art, travel writing and food writing…

To read the rest of Pat’s review click here: The Japan Times.
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To learn more about the book and read extracts click here: About the Book
To read more reviews click here: Reviews
To order the book click here: Deep Kyoto: Walks

Kamo River Stroll

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May 22, 2014
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On Wednesday, I took my own advice and went for a stroll along the Kamo River from Gojo Bridge to Demachiyanagi and back again. The heavy scent of jasmine, a lovely fresh breeze, the lush spring green and the sound of running water all combined to put me in a very mellow mood indeed. Here are some pictures I took with my i-phone along the way.

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My book “Deep Kyoto: Walks” is now on Amazon

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May 20, 2014
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So, I am now officially an editor, and an author too for that matter, as I wrote about 10,000 words in this one. Right up there with Pico Iyer. Yes, Pico Iyer. What do you mean you don’t know who he is? He’s one of the world’s most acclaimed travel writers and essayists! Quite a nice chap as well actually…  But I digress. My very first book is up on Amazon. Note my use of the word first. There will be more. Here it is! Please buy it! Review it! Tell your friends!

Oh and if you don’t have a Kindle reading device, never fear! Simply download one of these free Kindle reading apps for your computer, smartphone or tablet: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000493771

DeepKyoto-cover-0423-final

Deep Kyoto: Walks
Publisher: Deep Kyoto; 1st edition (May 18, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B00KFM2J0C
URLS: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KFM2J0C
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00KFM2J0C?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Price: $7.99 (811 yen or £4.89)

Editors: Michael Lambe & Ted Taylor

Authors: Jennifer Louise Teeter, Bridget Scott, Miki Matsumoto, Robert Yellin, Pico Iyer, Chris Rowthorn, John Dougill, John Ashburne, Stephen Henry Gill, Sanborn Brown, Joel Stewart, Izumi Texidor-Hirai, Perrin Lindelauf and Judith Clancy.

Includes:
18 walks
16 photographic illustrations
A specially commissioned woodblock print by Richard Steiner
12 detailed maps
Links to all locations on Google Maps
Cover Art by internationally acclaimed artist Sarah Brayer