Through Bamboo Groves and Temples, Kyoto, Arashiyama
November 5th, 2008 | Journal
I’ve just visited Kyoto for two days to enjoy the Fall scenery. Lucky for me it is only two hours from my country doorstep just outside Osaka to Kyoto by public transport. The first day I went to Kamigamo-jinja where Shichi-Go-San was in full swing, this is an event where kids of age 7, 5, and 3 dress in colorful kimono and visit shrines to pray for health and happiness. There were Maiko performing tea ceremony and dance as well. I particularly enjoyed the two large conical white sand mounds at the entry to the shrine said to represent mountains sculpted for gods to descend upon. Each mound has a singular pine needle stuck into it’s top. Kamigamo-jinja was established in 679 and dedicated to Raijin, the god of thunder. There is also a beautiful water basin. From Kamigamo-jinja I went to Jingo-ji a mountaintop temple that sits at the top of several long flights of stairs. After visiting the Kondo, (Gold Hall) I then went along a wooded path to an open area overlooking a deep valley. Here one tosses small ceramic discs over the railing into the chasm below. The discs are called kawarakenage and carry away one’s bad karma when thrown into the valley. The scenery there is breath taking.
It’s hard to believe that just yesterday morning I was taking a 4 hour long meandering walk in the mountains of Arashiyama, north of Kyoto. There was Tenru-ji a beautiful zen temple and garden, a stunning bamboo forest, the Okochi-Sanso Villa that overlooks the river and Kyoto, Jojakko-ji, Rakushisha a thatched roofed hut the haiku poet Basho stayed for a while. Then further along is Takiguchi-dera and Gio-ji with it’s fine moss garden, Adashino Nembutsu-ji with it’s thousands of stone statues and finally the way to Atago Torii lined with thatched roofed houses all evocative of another era and designating the end of the walk. All in all a beautiful Fall day with the leaves well on their way to turning every color of the rainbow.
Later on and a world apart…… it’s back to Osaka by Shinkansen!
Arrived in Japan…4 weeks
September 7th, 2008 | Journal
I arrived in Japan four weeks ago and have moved into my small apartment near the Osaka University of Art not far from Kishi, a small town about 45 minutes by train from Shin Osaka where the Shinkansen bullet train can be taken to other large cities. Kyoto is just a 15- minute train ride from Shin Osaka. I was traveling here with my friend Rich Tannen and we decided to head straight away to Kyoto. We went to many temples, Sanjusangendo, Kiyomizudera, Ginkaku-ji, Nanzen-ji, Kodai-ji, Kinkaku-ji, and Ryoan-ji. We also walked around Nishiki Market and Pontocho along the Kamo river. What really stuck out for me this trip was the gardens at Ginkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji. I’m also not far from Nara the ancient capital of Japan where I visited Todai-ji (the largest wooden structure in the world with it’s giant bronze Buddha), Kasuga jinja with it’s many lanterns, and Horyu-ji (the oldest wooden structure in the world) among other temples and shrines.