I’m in love

And all it took was some snow.

I’ve now made it to Kyoto. I checked and double-checked the weather forecast before I went out this morning and was relieved to see the BBC and uk.weather.com in agreement that it was to be a day of sunny intervals and about 10 degrees – not toasty, but pleasant enough. So I headed to Daitoku-ji, a complex of many small temples just outside the city centre, which feels completely isolated and peaceful – with a biting wind that made me glad I’d chosen to wear my snuggly coatigan (yes, that’s a thing) rather than my jacket. It was turning into a miserable day, actually, all ominous grey clouds and annoying spatters of rain (which sometimes looked suspiciously sleety) but, since Daitoku-ji is only a couple of bus stops from the famous Golden Pavilion I figured I’d go brave the crowds now rather than later.

It's not just the Pavilion... Oh my fucking days. Senso-ji in Nara knocked me sideways with its sheer size, but this… this is something entirely different. Yes, the gold-leaf-covered temple looks amazing, but it’s more than that. I adore lakes and mountains to begin with, so to see this pavilion glinting in a brief burst of glorious sunlight, backed by wooded hills, fronted by a large zen lake, as a crane circles three times before flying off out of sight… it is perhaps the most perfect thing I’ve seen. And I’m including Lake Bohinj at Ribcev Laz in that.

And then, as I walked behind the temple, watched a heron and tried to photograh some fish, it started to snow. I mean, properly snow. Huge flakes drifting out of the sky, first dreamily, then blindingly whipped towards us. It was so unexpected, so unlikely, so brilliant, that all I could do was laugh. It was as if the gods of romance called down a blizzard to make the scene complete; to go from sun to winter wonderland in 15 minutes. I can happily tell you that was one of the best moments of my entire life.

I am seriously starting to contemplate not coming home.

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