This is Clinton Hook. Expatriate Australian and resident of the 'Cho, the block on which we live.
Clinton lives in an exquisite Machiya, an old Kyoto style townhouse and studies Tao Shiatsu, a kind of Japanese acupressure massage. Cultural credentials aside, Clinton is a true gourmet - of food and life.
"I like Japan because it stimulates every sense², he says, ³and this neighbourhood is a smorgasbord of interesting things."
The locals warmly call him "Oniisan" (older brother). An enthusiastic vegetarian, Clinton is well known at the Tofu shop, the local fruit and vegetable market and especially, at the local teishoku (set menu) restaurant called "Asuka". The 5 women who run the Asuka always lose that "Kyoto cool" when Clinton arrives. They smile and clatter around him to see if, today, he will order either the large Boiled Tofu or the Vegetable Tempura set. "My Japanese language skills are limited," says Clinton, "I can't communicate with them verbally very well and so instead we communicate on a heart level."
"My view of this neighbourhood is that it's my little world. There are many parts I don't know or have experience with, so for me there are particular aspects that I really appreciate. I love the diversity of people here, foreigners and Japanese living together, the local shops, the historical vibe, the dynamic of tradition and change, the intrigue and the mystery that surrounds an old Kyoto neighbourhood."
"When foreigners come to Kyoto they are often told 'You will never be accepted by the locals here', but I don't think that is true in this neighbourhood. If you make an effort to forge a relationship then there is an opportunity to belong. It's generally true anywhere that if you express an interest, people will respond to it."
The jinrikusha (rickshaw) lads eagerly stop in front of his house on their sightseeing tour of the area and announce to their passengers, "Many foreigners live in this neighbourhood and this is the house of Clinton," misleading hundreds every week that the current American president has a Kyoto home.
Gochisosama deshita Clinton-san!