Recently, I boarded an almost empty shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to spend a few days in Kyoto, Japan's former capital. I was excited because the city's historical, artistic and spiritual locations have always given me reassurance in a changing world.
Kyoto boasts about 20% of Japan's cultural treasures and a vivid gastronomic scene that always delights. Before the COVID-19 pandemic it was plagued by busloads of free-spending tourists consuming the city in Instagrammable moments. The hordes largely kept me away. But now was the time to return, to soak in the city's new, peaceful calm.