Cloud above Kyoto

This autumn, I had an opportunity to rent a small old style Japanese house in Kyoto. It was so much better than staying in a hotel room. But there were two mysteries in the house. I didn't have anyone to explain them for me, because I didn't meet the landlord during my stay at all – everything was handled online.

When we arrived, I noticed there was a special corner in the living room and bedroom, some paintings hanging up on the wall, and right in front of the paintings stood a small wooden table with a vase. I couldn't understand why, in a small wooden house, with only limited space, why the owner of the house would still make a space for those things?

Another corner that got my attention every time I came into the house was near the main entrance door. A shrine was fixed high on the wall and above it on the ceiling was the word “cloud” written in Japanese (Japanese Kanji, which is the same as Chinese in this case). I had no idea what god the house owner was worshiping, and why the word”cloud” needed to be written on the ceiling.

I lived in this Kyoto old house with all these questions in my head for many days. Although I was experiencing a very authentic Japanese life in an Japanese old house. I felt that I was not able to connect their spirit.

While drinking sake with my Japanese friends who visited from Nagoya to stay for the night, I got the chance to find out the answer to all the puzzles. Firstly, the paintings hanging on the wall in the corner and the low table with the vase were not a religious shrine – they are there for artistic or aesthetic reasons.

The shrine hanging high near the entrance corner is serving a god, for example a fire god, the god that is meant to protect the house and people. My friends did take few seconds to check online and discuss the meaning of the word “cloud” on the ceiling above the shrine. They said that above human beings and gods is cloud, which means nothing, emptiness.

So cloud symbolizes nothing and emptiness. I felt a great sense of relief. What a smart and simple way to present Zen in a house. So I just lived in this Zen atmosphere during the last few days, enjoying the nature in the painting, the rice grass tatami flour.

So I really appreciated the Yin energy in this old Kyoto house, it was very relaxing.

If you wish to rent this house, please search for “Bamboo Town” in Kyoto.






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