Kyoto: City of Zen: Visiting the Heritage Sites of Japan's Ancient Capitalby Judith Clancy, Ben Simmons
An elaborate kaleidoscope of craft, artistry and religion, Kyoto is one of the world's most popular travel destinations. Art and design form the weft and warp of this vibrant 1,200-year-old city, home to hundreds of gardens,/b>
This travel pictorial and Japan travel guide captures the sites and soul of Kyoto—Japan's historic and spiritual center.
An elaborate kaleidoscope of craft, artistry and religion, Kyoto is one of the world's most popular travel destinations. Art and design form the weft and warp of this vibrant 1,200-year-old city, home to hundreds of gardens, palaces, villas and wooden temples, including seventeen UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Like a Zen koan, Kyoto defies easy description. Its citizens may work at Nintendo designing video games, at a company designing precision medical instruments, or sitting cross-legged meticulously affixing micro-thin flakes of gold foil onto a painting. All of them share a living heritage grounded in centuries of traditional culture.
In Kyoto: City of Zen, local Kyoto expert Judith Clancy presents the most important gardens, temples, shrines and palaces of this ancient capital city and enduring cultural center. In addition to unveiling the city's spiritual and historical riches, this travel book shares with readers the exquisite foods, artistic crafts, religious ceremonies and architectural traditions that have flourished in Kyoto for over a millennium. Tea ceremonies, calligraphy, weaving, pottery, painting, drama, and many more traditional arts and crafts are presented through more than 350 photographs by Ben Simmons.
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Kyoto: City of Zen has been a singularly timely find. We decided on visiting Kyoto in the autumn of this year, and I had begun not long before literally tripping across this recently published work in a local Kinokuniya Bookstore. It has answered all of our questions on the city and added on mountains of information. The book is a concise, yet thorough work covering the history, architectural layout, symbolism, and aesthetic objectives of many of the World Heritage Sites. The text covers topics ranging among the history of the tea ceremony, the periodic Shinto and Buddhist rituals and festivals, the rigid training of gardeners who upkeep the moss, trees and raked pebbles of the many gardens in the temples and villas, the regional food and arts and a plethora of other cultural practices unique to the former imperial capital. Judith Clancey’s descriptions are complemented by the exquisitely rich and colorful photography of Ben Simmons. The attention to style and layout already present in the design of the gardens and buildings is enhanced by Mr. Simmons’s own sense of composition, resulting in images that are a delight to view. The layout of the book makes a visit to Kyoto immediately accessible. The book is divided into chapters according to location, beginning in Central Kyoto, and then branching out to the eastern, northern, western and southern sections. Each section is supplemented with informative maps that are comprehensive, yet not overwhelming. I believe this will enable us to hit the ground running, so to speak, allowing us to visit many of the sites in our two weeks in Kyoto. If you are looking for a comprehensive book on Kyoto, this is it.
This collaborative effort between photographer Ben Simmons, and Kyoto authority Judith Clancy is a jewel of a book. I am a fan of Simmon's photographic work focused on Japan, and `City of Zen' is equally rich (I have a great library of his books). This book with Judith Clancy makes good on his standard of combining insightful, artistic images with a narrative that is both informative and exceedingly well written. The book devotes several pages of images and text to each of the seventeen World Heritage Sites in Kyoto, along with orienting maps, and insights into tea, crafts, food, and the architecture of Kyoto. Judith Clancy is known for her well-used book on exploring old Kyoto, and combined with Simmon's extraordinary photos - you truly get a sense of the potential of experiencing these sites first hand. I have made two trips to Japan - though only one too short stay in Kyoto. I intend to use the book in planning a future visit there, but I would also endorse it as a gift for someone interested in exploring the historic culture of Japan. It is not a traditional guidebook - it is more of an inspirational introduction to the best of historic Kyoto.