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Seeing Kyoto    by Juliet Winters Carpenter order for
Seeing Kyoto
by Juliet Winters Carpenter
Order:  USA  Can
Kodansha International, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Ayesha Baumgartner

Kyoto, 'the heart and soul' of Japan and rich in twelve centuries of culture, is captured at its best with color photos of the beloved city's temples, ancient palaces, cherry blossoms, gardens, landscapes, art and artistry, and lively festivals through the seasons. Two-page spreads of serene garden landscapes invite the reader into the best of Kyoto and approximate the experience of actually being there. The city's stunning beauty captivates, and is magnificently presented in its rich colors and simplicity. Grand master of urasenke (tea master) Sen Soshitsu walks us through the experience of being in Kyoto. His Foreword addresses 'what makes a Kyotoite', informs us that the 'culture makes a most fragrant wine' and speaks of the arts of tea, flower arrangement and incense appreciation.

Juliet Winters Carpenter's text is written with elegance, guiding through an incredible experience as though the reader were there in person. She speaks of her own visits to Kyoto, which leaves 'memories that will last a lifetime.' Learn about Kyoto in History from the Heian Period (794-1185) to the Edo Period ( 1603-1868). Marvel at Kyoto Culture and Life, the gorgeous cherry blossoms, maiko dancing girls (apprentice Geisha) and the history of the Floating World, cuisine and confectionery, Ryokan (traditional inns), crafts and vibrant festivals. Having lived in Japan and visited Kyoto, I found this book allowed me to see the city with new eyes and appreciate it even more. Carpenter has successfully captured, through lyrical and detailed text and spectacular full page color photos, what there is to experience in Kyoto. This extraordinary book - which showcases all that makes it such a fascinating and treasured city - is a must-have for the traveller eager to journey there. A map of central Kyoto is included to show the way to Japanese Inns, temples and shrines, and a chronology of the city's history is included at the back of the book.

If you would like to enjoy the essence, elegance and charm of Kyoto in the comfort of home, prepare a green tea, relax in your chair, and open up Seeing Kyoto for a journey through seasons filled with history, culture, beauty and artistry. This is the best guide there is on Kyoto for the visitor, and an enlightening experience for the curious. As we read between the covers, 'The world has changed, and so too has Japan, but Kyoto does not change.'

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