The Winds of Kyoto

The Winds of Kyoto

I wrote a very short story for the Fifth Annual Kyoto Writing Competition.

Kyoto building heights heat map
Height of buildings in Kyoto, from a paper [1] by DPRI researchers

At the Disaster Prevention Research Institute of Kyoto University, researchers are modelling the flow of the wind over the city.

The wind that blows over the tiny machiyas of Gion and around Kyoto station with its tall hotels and the Tower.

In spring, it scatters a storm of sakura petals all over the city. In the rainy season, it blows down from Arashiyama along the waters of the Katsuragawa, and carries streams of clouds over the hills. When the temple ponds are full of lotus flowers, it stirs the lanterns and chases the incense smoke, and cools the faces of the teams that pull the Yamaboko along Shijou Doori. At the end of summer, when the higanbana is blooming, that same wind follows the railway line to Uji and blows in through the open window of the researchers’ offices, rifling the stacks of diagrams that reveal its very flow.

But sometimes that flow gathers to a tremendous strength, and then a typhoon will lacerate the city. The models of the wind predicts this, to make sure the people of Kyoto are prepared.

Then Kyoto hunkers down, and waits.

When the storm has passed, the sky is a transparent clear and blue. The wind of Kyoto is once again cool and mild, blowing gently over the city.

Reynolds stress of wind flow over Kyoto, at 4 different heights
Result of wind flow simulation over Kyoto, from a paper [1] by DPRI researchers

[1] Yoshida, T., Takemi, T. & Horiguchi, M. Large-Eddy-Simulation Study of the Effects of Building-Height Variability on Turbulent Flows over an Actual Urban Area. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 168, 127–153 (2018).

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