A source of endless creative inspiration, Japan has fueled the imagination of American novelist and screenwriter John Burnham Schwartz for decades. The author brings the country to life in two of his books, “Bicycle Days,” a coming-of-age story that reflects his experiences there as a 16-year-old traveler, and “The Commoner,” a fictional account of the Empress of Japan in the modern era. A trip to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient former capital, to research “The Commoner, was one of his favorite trips.

“For me, Kyoto is a place of very specific memories and images because it’s a place of antiquity, but at the same time, people live within that antiquity every day,” says Burnham Schwartz. “And so, as a writer, you capture images and sounds that seem impossible in modern times. And yet they happen every morning. They happen every evening. So, when I think of Kyoto, I always imagine stumbling upon very specific sites that are unlike places you’d find anywhere else in the world.”

Meet the author and listen to him describe his favorite Kyoto locations in this video, the first in ANA’s original series “Writers Take Flight,” where renowned writers describe their top picks in Japan.

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