i put my ears under the water in the herbal basin of a small onsen near where I was staying in Kyoto.
I faced the ceiling and saw the large skylight, that had a neat rectangular frame with the main bean oriented along the longitude, and seven side beams on either side along the latitude.
Kyoto has an ancient grid system, that was already in place during the Heian-period of the 10th century.
Standing in any crossroads, the sky looks distinct in all the four cardinal directions.
I listened to the sound of the bubbling water towards the four cardinal directions. Due to the placement of the water-jet, the longitudinal line sounded louder than the latitudinal.
People have written pieces based on sillier phenomena.
Mia Kankimäki retells the beliefs that Heian-period inhabitants of Kyoto (then Heiankyo) had towards the cardinal and especially the ordinal directions. North-east was especially ominous, so the Hiei mountain north-east of Kyoto was an important protective agent.
The wind in Kyoto during my stay was both refreshing and warm, as it blew from towards the ocean in the south. You don't feel at street-level, but on the railway stations that are lifted on viaducts. They also have a breathtaking 360° panorama of the mountain ranges on three sides of town.
I spent enough time on Yakushima to experience the radical differences of the four sides of the near-perfectly circle-shaped island.
The Miyanoura, the main ferry port and largest town in the north of the island is shadowed by the steep mountainsides that start to rise in places immediately from the coastline.
Pitching a tent at Anbo on the east-side, I got to experience the suns indiscriminate determination to fuel life on this planet first hand. I found my tent uninhabitable by 7.15 in the morning.
I hiked to the top of Yakushima already on my first full day on the island. The Yakusugi-cedars had a powerful presence on the island, but only on a strip between 500 metres above sea-level to about 1500. Mt. Miyanoura, the highest peak on Kyushu, is over 1900m. After the cedars, a large grove of rhododendron, followed by a low, bamboo-like bush that covered the entire mountain top save for the massive volcanic boulders with pareidolic forms and textures.
I saw an intriguing map on my last hike on the island. The ecosystems of Yakushima, from sea-level to peak, are parallel to the ecosystems of the entire Japanese archipelago from Yakushima to Wakkanai at the northernmost peninsula of Hokkaido. I had in fact hiked across the country during one day already on my first week.
I decided I would chill the rest of my time here.
I took the bus from Anbo and in half an hour I was at the southernmost tip of the island. The climate was subtropical, the leaves large and moist, lots of fruit and everything was basking in generous sunlight.
At the western tip, there was a cafe that felt a bit like Café Regatta in Helsinki, in that you feel you are at the end of the world. Or at the end of Töölö district at least.
This was of course the land of sunsets.
If you google sunrise in Australia, you get pictures from the east coast. Sunset pictures are from Perth.
When becoming conscious of the cardinal directions, you quickly join forces with the sun.
I realise I have been very lucky with the weather on this trip. I will humbly make my way north.
Today I will spend with a violinist friend I met while studying in London. I brought her from home a tote bag with moomin on it and some maple momiji from Hiroshima.