On my favorite walk in Kyoto, I say hello to boys on their way to school and listen with great pleasure to priests at early morning prayer.

Leaving the Miyako Hotel, where I've been a frequent guest for almost forty years, I walk briefly up Sanjo-dori and then follow the Biwako-sousi Canal down the hill. A right turn and a short walk leads to a lovely residential area.

Unlike the typical Japanese neighborhood, these are grand homes, widely separated and facing a quiet street. In the United States, these would be called mansions; but, somehow, this word does not do them justice. When the front gates are open, I can see large carp swimming leisurely in stone-lined ponds.

Sometimes, a karasu flies overhead and lands on a gingko tree with hanging chimes. The strident craw of this Japanese crow contrasts with the quiet notes of the chimes - a gentle, sensitive experience.

Leaving these handsome homes, I follow a creek leading to the street where Higashiyama High School is nestled against the wooded mountain side. If my timing is fortunate, I'm immediately surrounded by boys on their way to school. All smile, most say "hello" and a few even add "good morning" in excellent English. All are wearing high collared, dark blue blazers, gray slacks, caps, and are carrying backpacks filled with books. They are so clean, so orderly and so civilized. I am reminded how they contrast with many American school boys.

Continuing beyond the boys' high school, I come to a wide stone path leading to the Nanzenji Temple. Usually, the priests are at morning prayer. Their chanting breaks the complete silence. The traditional architecture of the temple surrounded by magnificent trees creates a tranquility even the most insensitive would find difficult to ignore.

My walk leads me to the edge of a deep flume carrying rushing water from lake Biwa to northern Kyoto. Finally, narrow steps down a steep hill lead back to the hotel.