“We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.”
Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a GeishaStreams trickle and babble throughout Kyoto, lending a watery backdrop to the “floating world” of the old geisha district called Gion. Tea houses and parties featuring geisha, or geiko, transport people from their everyday concerns to an ephemeral world of sophistication, elegance and possibility, a world that evaporates come daylight and exists only in a state of postponed reality. It hovers between the real and the imagined.
At least that’s how it’s described in “The Teahouse Fires,” a novel set in Kyoto that I listened to while riding buses and trains in Sasebo and Tokyo. I guess I expected too much, because even though we saw the classic geisha in kimono and wooden flip flops shuffling to work in the evening, I expected it to be…geisha-ier. But it was cool—old wooden building fronts, cafes along the many rivers, lots of people out and about. Chris and I were hungry as heck and a bit chilly (as usual, an unexpected cool front arrived when we did) so we had tasty Italian food at Gion S and enjoyed the river.