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Peace and quiet in Kyoto

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

A small canal runs on the right. On the left are cherry trees heavy with blossom, with two people sitting beneath the shade.

Kyoto, March 2021. Sakura season is in full swing. Cherry trees are heavy with blossom. Japan's symbolic rebirth is underway.

Streets should be heaving with admirers. Some drenched in the significance of the moment. Others enjoying the spectacle. A few desperate to grab that perfect selfie for Instagram.

Except there is an uneasy stillness.

Philosopher's Walk, the iconic centerpiece, is quiet and flows freely. There's plenty of time to pause and admire the moment or snap a photo without the frame filled with others doing the same. There are polite nods and even occasional words spoken between strangers.

As devastating as the pandemic was for Japan's tourism, I am grateful for these quieter moments. They offered an opportunity to enjoy the here and now without worrying about the crowds or fretting I was somehow spoiling someone's shot.

While a small part of me might hanker for quiet times again, I know it won't happen. Or rather, I hope it won't happen.

A selection of photos from March 2021

Two women in Kimono look at their selfies while a couple behind them take photographs
Two women pose for a selfie on abandoned railway tracks, surrounded by the pink hue of cherry blossom
A canal runs through the center of the frame, with green foliage on the left and pink cherry blossom on the right. A woman walks along the path holding an umbrella to shield herself from the sun
Two woman stand in the foreground posing for selfies while people bustle behind admiring the pink cherry blossom
A man sits on a concrete bridge over the Philosopher Walk canal in Kyoto. Unusually he is alone and able to enjoy the sakura around him.
A canal winds through Kyoto, with green banks, pink sakura and not many people

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction.

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