Along the road to the temple mountain, booths had been erected for the sale of translucent candy tasting like cherry blossoms, cases for mirrors and handkerchiefs made out of kimono fabrics, and shopping bags made out of black silk and embroidered with images of fans and cranes. Looking through a screen of bamboo trunks I saw a maple on the slope of another mountain, its leaves still golden.
    As we stopped to look at it, Hiroko told me that her father had come every fall from distant Kyushu island to Kyoto in order to see the temple gardens in their autumnal glory. Now Typhoon Number 18 had ripped the roof off her father’s garage.
    As we descended the stone steps on the steep slope, Hiroko held my elbow as if afraid that I could stumble and fall any moment. It made me aware of my age.
    “Should we look in there?” I asked. It was a shop that sold antique kimonos and fabrics and some slippery-smooth scraps of silk that I browsed with delight. The shopkeeper did not greet us, didn’t even look at us, even though we were the only customers. As we returned to the street empty-handed, we saw a blowfish. It swam about in an aquarium in the display window of an adjacent restaurant, unaware that it would soon be butchered and eaten by a patron able to pay a high price for it.
    Across the street from the restaurant was another antique shop offering Kabuki dolls from the previous century, chopsticks, paperweights shaped like elephants and tigers, and classic tea sets. On a shelf, surrounded by rice bowls, I found a bronze sculpture covered in verdigris, about a foot long. It was a buddha, either sleeping or dwelling on the border between sleep and walking, resting his head on an oblong pillow. His right hand lay between his head and the pillow, his left arm stretched out tight on his thigh. His hair style was

Created with Stone Design's Create® at 2005-08-01 21:57:19 +0300