Japan 1983 (Part 10)

November 17

The culture’s reverence for nature accentuates Kyoto’s innate beauty. Designs on fabric, pottery, lacquer, and folding screens depict swirling water, budding branches, and birds in flight. Delicate woodcuts and scrolls celebrate the moonlight, rain, and snow. Elegant restaurant dishes arrive with edible garnishes of seasonal flora. ~  Victoria Abbott Riccardi

Highlighting Kyoto. As I’ve said before (somewhere), my favorite city. I always wanted to go back to do this trip again, but I could never bring myself to do another trans-Pacific plane ride. Roy, on the other hand, made several trips back, and after his retirement to Hawaii he was half way there . . .

I told him there was one city that they must not bomb without my permission and that was Kyoto. ~ Henry L. Stimson

[A highlight of any foreign trip, of course, are the public rest rooms, especially when they’re well identified . . . ]

[Nijō Castle is a flatland castle in Kyoto. The castle consists of two concentric rings (Kuruwa) of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various support buildings and several gardens. The surface area of the castle is 275,000 square metres (27.5 ha; 68 acres), of which 8,000 square metres (86,000 sq ft) is occupied by buildings. It is one of the seventeen Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which have been designated by UNESCO as a World Hertiage Site (Wikipedia).]

[The Ninomaru Palace in the castle was the residence and office of the shogun during his visits to Kyoto. And here he is. He was protected here by the “nightingale floors” (see 3 photos down) which I recall thinking at the time was something really cool . . . ]

[Now I remember. I invented the selfie 37 years ago . . . ]

[Heaven only knows what this is suppose to be . . . ]

[Ninomaru Palace of Nijo Castle is 3,300 square meters and consists of five connected separate buildings and is built almost entirely of Hinoki cypress. The decoration includes lavish quantities of gold leaft and elaborate wood carvings, intended to impress visitors with the power and wealth of the ‘shōguns’. The sliding doors and walls of each room are decorated with wall paintings by artists of the Kano school. The castle is an excellent example of social control manifested in architectural space. Low-ranking visitors were received in the outer regions of the Ninomaru, whereas high-ranking visitors were shown the more subtle inner chambers. Rather than attempt to conceal the entrances to the rooms for bodyguards (as was done in many castles), the Tokugawas chose to display them prominently. Thus, the construction lent itself to expressing intimidation and power to Edo-period visitors. The building houses several different reception chambers, offices and the living quarters of the shōgun, where only female attendants were allowed. One of the most striking features of the Ninomaru Palace are the “nightingale floors” (uguisubari) in the corridors that make a chirping sound when walked upon. Some of the rooms in the castle also contained special doors where the shogun’s bodyguard could sneak out to protect him (Wikipedia).]

[The pond of the Ninomaru Garden . . . ]

[And we tourists attack . . . ]

[The Heian Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Sakyō-ku, Kyoto. The Shrine is ranked as a Beppyō Jinja (the top rank for shrines) by the Association of Shinto Shrines. It is listed as an important cultural property of Japan (Wikipedia).]

[Heian-jingū’s torii, one of the largest in Japan . . . ]

[Marsha on the Heian shrine grounds . . . ]

[The actual shrine grounds themselves are very spacious, with a wide open court at the center. The shrine’s main buildings are a partial replica of the original Imperial Palace from the Heian Period, built on a somewhat smaller scale than the original (japan-guide.com).]

[Tanabata is a celebration which occurs every year in Japan. It is associated with people of all ages making a wish, writing it on colorful strips of paper (tanzaku) and tying them to a bamboo tree. This tree may be at a shrine or simply tastefully put in your front garden (japan-forward.com).]

In the 18th century Japan had the world’s largest city, and world’s most literate population. ~  Kenneth Henshall

[This, and the following five photos, in the Heian shrine gardens . . . ]

I was not prepared for the feel of the noodles in my mouth, or the purity of the taste. I had been in Japan for almost a month, but I had never experiences anything like this. The noodles quivered as if they were alive, and leapt into my mouth where they vibrated as if playing inaudible music. ~  Ruth Reichl

Just beyond the gate, a neat yellow hole—someone pissed in the snow. ~  Kobayashi Issa

Regarding video games, Nintendo has had a huge influence on young people around the world. The company is in fact much older than many might imagine. It started in 1889 as a card company, exactly a 100 years before it produced the Gameboy. ~  Kenneth Henshall

News from Japan doesn’t travel and hardly ever gets reported abroad. It is almost as if Japan’s winds do not travel far. ~  Kanji Hanawa

The Heian court gave the world some of its finest early literature. For example, around 1004 the court lady Murasaki Shikibu wrote the world’s first novel, Genji Monogatari (Tale of Prince Genji). Many of its thousand pages reveal a life of exquisite refinement. ~  Kenneth Henshall

[The covered shopping arcades of downtown Kyoto. I’m not sure which is which but . . . ]

[One is likely Nishiki Market, where you’ll find dozens of food vendors selling mostly things that are considered typical “Kyoto” foods – pickled vegetables, tea, tofu – as well as an assortment of other seasonal goods and cookware (jackieoshiro.com) . . . ]

[Or at the end of the market, you’ll emerge into a covered shopping arcade. This street (Teramachi) and the street that runs parallel to it (Shinkyogoku) are the core of Kyoto’s shopping district. They span several blocks each and are filled with boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and souvenirs aplenty (jackieoshiro.com).] 

This lowly view of women was on reason why so many – if not most – samurai preferred homosexual relationships. ~  Kenneth Henshall

I think onstage nudity is disgusting, shameful, and damaging to all things American. But if I were 22 with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic, and a progressive religious experience. ~ Shelley Winters

[KYOTO . . . ]

[The general area from which the previous photo was taken . . . ]

[In the distance below, a cheerful beacon of 1960’s optimism, Kyoto Tower stands at 131 meters high from its base to the tip of its spire, and it is the tallest structure in Kyoto. As such it dominates the skyline and can be spotted from many of the sightseeing locations around the city. For a little over 50 years this curious structure has split opinion between those who see it as a symbol of modern Kyoto, and others who see it as a tacky and inappropriate folly (kyotostation.com).]

[Kiyomizu-dera, formally Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera,  is a Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site. Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period.  The temple was founded in 778, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633.  There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills.  Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water. The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. Large verandas and main halls were constructed at many popular sites during the Edo period to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims. In 2007, Kiyomizu-dera was one of 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World, but was not picked as one of the seven winning sites (Wikipedia).]

[This place was strikingly awesome and well due consideration as a wonder of the world . . . ]

[The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Okuninushi, a god of love and “good matches”.  Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of “love stones” placed 10 meters (30 feet) apart, which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed implies that the pilgrim will find love, or true love.  One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that a go-between will be needed. The person’s romantic interest can assist them as well (Wikipedia).]

How much does he lack himself who must have many things? ~  Sen no Rikyū

Japan knows the horror of war and has suffered as no other nation under the cloud of nuclear disaster. Certainly Japan can stand strong for a world of peace. ~  Martin Luther King Jr.

[‘Otowa-no-taki,’ the waterfall where visitors drink for health, longevity, and success in studies (Wikipedia).]

Whereas, in the west, individuality and drive are considered positive qualities, they are not seen the same way, in Japan. In that country, if you are too much of a rugged individualist, it might actually indicate that you are a weak, unreliable character and that you are selfish, in a childish, willful kind of way. ~  Alexei Maxim Russell

Japanese are one of the most punctual people he had ever worked with. They could, he imagined, put the Germans to shame in their high expectation for timeliness. ~  Vann Chow

The peasant is the foundation of the state and must be governed with care. He must be allowed neither too much, nor too little, but just enough rice to live on and keep for seed in the following year. The remainder must be taken from him in tax. ~ Honda Masanobu

[Sayonara to Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera]

I do not believe there is an atheist in the world who would bulldoze Mecca-or Chartres, York Minster or Notre Dame, the Shwe Dagon, the temples of Kyoto or, of course, the Buddhas of Bamiyan. ~ Richard Dawkins

I loved the quiet places in Kyoto, the places that held the world within a windless moment. Inside the temples, Nature held her breath. All longing was put to sleep in the stillness, and all was distilled into a clean simplicity.The smell of woodsmoke, the drift of incense; a procession of monks in black-and-gold robes, one of them giggling in a voice yet unbroken; a touch of autumn in the air, a sense of gathering rain. ~ Pico Iyer

Up Next: Part 11

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