part three :: kyoto

roof to roof

well - i'll try to sum up kyoto in one post. it's a city in japan that houses an incredible amount of national treasures and historic buildings. it used to be the capital of japan. it has a more traditional [for me read :: stuffy] feeling than the other parts of japan i've been too - but if you want to see old buildings and art and old culture [there's a textile center that has kimono fashion shows multiple times a day] then kyoto is a must.

above is nijo castle built by the tokugawa clan in the 16th/17th centuries. it's amazing and one of my favorite places we went. the floor squeaks - on purpose - so that it was hard for ninjas to plan secret attacks [do you know i always wanted to be a ninja?]. it's a sprawling multiple building complex with 2 motes. the rooms have AMAZING screens [things i have studied in books] and the ceilings are also decorated in really lovely patterns [each room differently].

i couldn't help but think about there are moments in my work that are rooted in the aesthetics i kept seeing. what is interesting to me about this is that i'm not doing it on purpose. it seems inherent and natural is it that i was exposed to some japanese artifacts when i was a child and they sank in? or is there really something to be said for a cultural point of view? is there something in my make up that almost forces me to look at space in an asian manner?

trash trash trash trash

all my photos from nijo here


unfortunately you weren't allowed to take photos inside, but sanjusangendo houses 1001 statues of buddha. all lined up - gilded gold - the same but slightly different [since they were carved by different artists]. this also seemed to be a theme. the repetition of things - but in a means where they are not exact replicas. this is another HUGE thing in my own work. i love the small alterations, imperfections, moments of the hand.

the other sanjusangendo photos here [only a few]

a red roofline

we stayed across from the imperial gardens/palace . it used to be where the emperor stayed. it's really lavish with multiple gardens. but you have to make a reservation to go, and you have to follow a tour - so this wasn't my favorite place. it did have some nice moments though.


these red buckets were everywhere. they all had water in them from the rain, but i'm not sure what their purpose is. mom - any help?

**update** so chez shoes confirmed my suspicion. these are fire buckets... and my mom says : "The Kanji letters say: "Shou(shoo)-ka-yoo" meaning, "for fire extinguishing"...People can recognize red buckets for if little water can extinct any fire???". and i have to confess that was my reason for questioning their use. how could such a little bucket put out a fire? well - they look cool anyway! thanks guys! ****


i have to admit i got a kick out of looking for "behind the scenes" moments at all these tourist attractions. i also fell in love with the stark white and dark brown buildings

all the imperial palace photos here

for sheer wow factor - you've gotta love

kinkakuji - the golden pavillion

kinkakuji or the golden pavilion. originally a shogun residence it was converted to a temple after his death as he was a devout buddhist. it's on the edge of kyoto so it's surround by lush green hills.

all kinkakuji photos here .


in start contrast is ginkakuji or the silver pavilion [but there is no silver]. zen sand gardens, and a lovely green garden that climbs through the hills.


also originally a private residence - can you imagine living in that?

Very Important Moss

along the trail was this moss growing tray. on the sign in english it says "very important moss (like VIP)". love that.

all ginkakuji photos here

from above

fushini inari is the shrine of red gates - just outside of kyoto. too many tori to count. you just walk through them - wandering up and around the hills. if you take a side path you might be lucky enough to find an old old nook of shrines. foxes and red gates are the norm here. there are old, new, stone, red, big, small, medium gates. you just follow them. it's a really different kind of shrine experience. [but again with the repetition]

shoes on the roof

along the trail are also small business/homes. they sell food, drinks, incense and the other accoutremonts you need to pay tribute to your ancestors. the image above was from one of those pit stops.

all fushini inari pics here

small buckets

the granddaddy of temples might be kiyomizu . it's more like a complex of buildings - in various styles. it's really kind of mindboggling.

for water


these are some of my favorite quiet, behind the scenes moments of kiyomizu. there are plenty more pics here . the roads to and from kiyomizu are lined with crafty shops - some more trinkety in nature, but also some gorgeous ceramics and cloths and traditional snacks/sweets.

blue mail

we did a lot of walking in kyoto. mostly because the subway system isn't so great and we are not big bus riders [buses are the way to go there]. so i ended up taking a lot of pictures of random things along the way. my around kyoto pics are here

and speaking of walking.... in thinking about all these places the word pilgrimage kept coming to mind. to visit most of these places you have to either walk a up a hill, travel some distance or are greeted by a gate. even if you aren't religiously inclined something about these places made me really pay attention to my surroundings. maybe because they are also integrated into nature, maybe because it's so apparent that there's historic ritualistic residue. so many people. coming. to make wishes, to pray, to change their future.

a japanese friend of mine explained to me that she thought that shinto shrines are more interested in luck, fortune, and keeping away bad luck/spirits and buddhist temples are used more for weddings, funeral, and "serious" affairs. i sort of liked these ideas and have been thinking about how i see luck, fortune and "serious" affairs in my life.

well... we're almost there. still tokyo to go. i tried to warn you i had a lot of pics!

have a good weekend!


Anonymous said…
The red buckets are fire buckets.

These posts have been wonderful, thanks so much for sharing your experiences!
laura said…
great pics lisa! I was mystified by the fire buckets when I was there...they seemed like they would be rather ineffective in practice, but very cute.

I'm glad that you made it to sanjusangendo, and have you seen Hiroshi Sugimoto's exhibition at the de Young? He has a piece on that theme.
deerseason87 said…
oh my god- i always wanted to be a ninja, too! or a spy...

jenny said…
okay, how cool is that aout the squeaking floors? (are ninjas, for REALS?) :)

loving your pictures lisa...i admit my list for places to travel is so long, it just might take me forever to finish it up, :) and kyoto is now on the "hmmm" list.

(and your beautiful pictures are cheering a dizzy girl in bed, :) xo
shari said…
amazing photos. beauty around every corner it seems. wow. thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. hope you are doing well sweet friend. xox
your photos are stunning, japan looks intoxicating through your eyes! thank you for sharing your journey!
Sooo, you are back. I have been reading and peeking and reading and peeking. Catching up on your adventure! It all looks just marvelous. From your funny photos of fire water buckets..hehhe.. to the food below. Ja[anes food is my favorite. I could eat it all day everyday. I could never tire of it. Ever. I actually keep seaweed around, and eat it as a snack! I am in love with all of your photos!!! Just in love, I can't say enough! xxo
andrea said…
wow, lisa. wow wow wow. been catching up with you here finally and all I can muster is a wow. over and over again.

I miss you! xo
cruststation said…
Stunning pictures, after seeing this set I get a sense of a place that seem distant to that in Western nations. A culture and aesthetic that is almost alien but fascinating to visit the places that are seeped in culture and history, as well as those in the cutting edge of technology. Adore the picture with sandals on the roof tiles and the one with the aprons, how cute!
jen said…
thanks for sharing lisa! i love the behind the scenes photos.
dandelion said…
ive been loving your japan photos and stories - beautiful... (by the way I have tagged you - please don't feel you have to oblige though!!)
life in yonder said…
I loved reading everything and exploring the links you provided. You should receive a comision from the travel agencies after this. I have always wanted to go to Japan, but now more than ever. Thank you for sharing stories and details about your trip.
michelle said…
Oh I love these photos, they look so peaceful and perfectly happy.
amisha said…
i am dazzled... i feel like all of my comments are the same but i am LOVING these posts!! the 'behind the scenes' photos are so so good. and so much to think about here... the 'cultural point of view' has me thinking about how this plays out in my own life as well. the integration of nature/ shrine... following your post on indoor/ outdoor in the home... thinking about space and nature and how we invite the outside in and vice versa. so much to ponder here. thank you thank you for this dear one!! xoxo
cindy said…
ah, very important moss, i have to get myself to japan....soon.
thank you lisa these photos are so beautiful.
one black bird said…
VIM (VERY IMPORTANT MOSS) oh that makes me very happy :) all of your photos are absolutely stunning lisa.
poppy said…
looks so amazing, kyoto. i have never been, but i think it would be one of my favorites. and interesting your innate sense of japanese art and your connection to it. i sort of know how you feel, without having visited my grandparent's country, i still feel such a connection to their sense of design, traditions and culture.
risa said…
omg, those aprons!
Anke said…
You are back! Finally, finally - and with a truckload of fabulous pictures! Missed you!!!
simple me said…
I always (wrongly!) imagined kyoto as a quite place where artists gather but Obviously it is a crowded, touristic place.
I believe that there are things in the way we are brought up and the things we are expose to as a child account to a lot the way we see and like things. but I don't believe that it stops in there. there are other "influences".
I really feel attracted by the japanese aesthetics and I have no relation whatsoever with anything from that part of the world.
I often think that possibly there is a part of us that was "programmed" before we were even born...but that is a long talk.
I really like to see all these pictures and the one with the fire buckets is amusing.
and the contrast of lines in the building gives a sense of order and for me balance.
repetition ... repetition ... repetition ... we can repeat but each single piece is an individual. every gesture brings a new soul to what you make.
repetition is what I can find must here in your images and that is what makes it a whole. what makes sense and what turns it interesting.
I smiled at those "aprons" and those "clogs".
in that case shinto shrines are a sort of casinos ... no? :)
have a great week Lisa.
shanna said…
no words for all the beauty here. all i can say is thank you so much for taking us on such an amazing journey!
UNIFORM Studio said…
I love seeing japan through your lens and eyes. These photos are so calm.
In each one I can focus on a texture or color and idea and put them together to get a feeling about the place.
Repetition -it seems like an important element in japanese culture/design because it takes focus away from an object and brings it back to a whole. At least that is how I always see japanese design. Field vs Object.
Hey Lisa, so glad that you're back!
I've just returned from Osaka/Kyoto earlier this year and LOL I've yet to arrange my photos. Nice shots!
gracia said…
Wonderful photos... I'm so loving journeying with you in Japan, seeing it and experiencing it all through your eyes. Amazing.

Roll on Tokyo!
take care, g xo
louise said…
I too am loving your tour through Japan. I was wowed by so may of your beautiful photos, but I have a great fondness forr moss so your photo of the vip moss tray has to be my favourite.
lisa s said…
hello friends... thanks so much for all your kind comment and interest in my travels

paula and martha - i think we need to have a longer discussion!!!
bugheart said…
i am
with shari-
thank you
so so much
for sharing
this all
with us...
i adore
seeing it
through your eyes...
the VIP moss
made me
laugh out loud!
comfies said…
ahh! these photographs are stunning..

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