27 July 2007
part three :: kyoto
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?
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]
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 emergency...as 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 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?
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
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]
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
the granddaddy of temples might be kiyomizu . it's more like a complex of buildings - in various styles. it's really kind of mindboggling.
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.
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!