In Kyoto, Feeling Forever Foreign

Travel writer Pico Iyer remains both fascinated and puzzled by the ancient Japanese city

Hanamikoji street, Geisha district, Gion, Kyoto (Hans Sautter / Aurora Select)
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Through a little doorway in the square, I found—to my amazement—a Starbucks counter. Single chairs had been set out in a straight line so that latte drinkers, instead of chatting, could just look out upon the temple. Soft piano music turned the area even more distinctly into a meditation zone. The English Breakfast tea I bought there tasted just the same as if I’d bought it at Los Angeles International Airport. But drinking it in that tranquil setting told me that I was in a very different country now, and one that I could almost call my own.

Pico Iyer’s most recent book is The Open Road, about the Dalai Lama.


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