Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

After Koyasan, we went to Kyoto. The evening we arrived, we had a great kaiseki dinner at Sakamoto, one on our favorite kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto. It is in the Gion district and is on the river with a great view during the cherry blossom season. After dinner, we went to Minoya, a tea house. I wrote about tea houses in 1994. Ichisuzu, whose photo appears in my entry from 1994 joined us. The picture to the right is a picture of Mizuka and Ichisuzu. Ichisuzu told us that Mamehide who I also met in 1994 left Kyoto to go to school to learn to be a painting restoration professional and that she was moving to Italy soon. She is the talk of the town.

Here are some pictures from Minoya.

Kaoru Yoshimura who runs the tea house is an old family friend. About 24 years ago my mother taught English at Minoya to the geisha and the maiko. Mrs. Fukui, the wife of my father's teacher, Professor Kenichi Fukui who would later win a Nobel Prize for his orbital frontier theory in chemistry introduced my mother to Minoya. Kaoru, who was the daughter of the okasan of the tea house, watched my mother teach. She was 17 or so at the time. When my parents took us the the US, Kaoru wrote my mother every day asking to join us in the US. My mother talked to Kaoru's mother and convinced her to let Kaoru come to the US and help take care of the kids. I was 3 at the time. She was my babysitter. After several months and 20kgs of weight gain, Kaoru returned to Kyoto. Her mother passed away and she now runs Minoya. I visit Minoya several times a year to catch up with everyone in Gion and visit temples, drink sake under the cherry blossoms and to go to the special events where the geisha and maiko perform.

I used wait until the guests left the tea house and sleep on the floor of the tea house. Now I stay at a wonderful inn called Iyuki. Iyuki is at the top of the hill over Maruyama Park and has one of the best views of cherry blossoms during the season.

Here are some pictures of Iyuki.

The next morning, Mizuka and I went to visit Mrs. Fukui. Mrs. Fukui was a very good friend of my mother. Dr. Fukui was my father's teacher and a great mentor of mine. Even when I was a small child, Dr. Fukui would spend hours talking to me about science. He was a very pure scientist who thought very little about his personal gain. He was so "neutral" that the Emperor often consulted with him on issues such as the notion of moving the location of the capitol. Dr. Fukui was the typical abscent minded professor and it was Mrs. Fukui's full time job to take care of him. Once, when he was going to Stockholm to give a speech at an anniversary meeting of the Nobel Prize, he forgot his Japanese Imperial Award medal. I was enlisted to take it to Stockholm and pin it on Dr. Fukui. After Dr. Fukui passed away, Mrs. Fukui suddenly had a lot more time to think, but less information from the outside. I have made it a point to drop in and see her when I can to talk to her about everything I am thinking about. With more time, she has reflected on many of the things that Dr. Fukui thought about. She has much more experience in education and religion than Dr. Fukui did and she has begun to develop many notions which I believe are essential for changing Japan. It was great talking to her after Koyasan. I talked to her about religion, the National ID and my unhappiness with the current government. She echoed our concerns and also told us she was very worried with the youth of Japan. She thought Mizuka and I were radical but that Japan needed a bit of radicalism to force change.