machiya

Written by: Julia Cheng

The rooms lie low and hollow, perforated by two stone gardens enclosed in the center. A lone hard chair hides in the corner. The tatami mat, brown and warped, gently springs beneath my steps; this house only welcomes travelers passing through. But if only you knew the stories I could tell you, it whispers to me through the two holes smashed into the side of a paper wall. Prayer beads lie under a veil of dust on a low wooden desk overlooking the rooftops of Kyoto. I imagine their soft worn edges and the prayers of their owner but all I can see from here is a smiling neon Jankara sign and a politician's van lurching past, mechanically chanting empty vows.