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When You're Running

The front door, discernible only by its English moniker, is one of thirty. The crumbling building, which has seen and survived dropped bombs and Richter-rocking earthquakes and post-war occupation, is one of thousands. Japan is a place of numbers and Kyoto, its cultural capital and certified purveyor of tsukemono, is no exception. In this uniformly-packed city where the porcelaneous faces of old-world geisha meet the constant arcade fire of pachinko parlours, it's easy to get caught in the web of the gaijin caucus. Yet, away from the east-meets-west pick-up joints and misplaced fawning is a city teeming with riches; a culture built on a strict adherence to age-old practices; a religion that still inspires reverence and encourages ritual visits to stunning temples like Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji; an unfathomable world in the cobbled streets of Gion that, as you inch tediously closer, creeps further away. But, as these old-world ways seep seamlessly into the new, there is no sign of the young turning their collective back, and it seems the oft-chequered but always engaging past of Japan is safe in the hands of the future.

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