Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kyoto at Night

_MG_9028 copy
_MG_9039 copy
_MG_9018 copy
_MG_9005 copy

Kyoto in the Early Evening

_MG_8977 copy
_MG_8969 copy
_MG_8982 copy

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺) (Kyoto, Japan)

The last temple we visited! (I know you are probably sick of looking at temples...I will get on to other parts of the trip now). I have to say though, the temples/shrines in Kyoto may have been the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen. If you know anything about Kyoto, you will know that one of the reasons it is such a famous tourist destination is because of the fact that it was one of the few cities that was not touched by World War II. And thank god! To imagine that these beautiful places of Shinto and Buddhist worship could have been wiped off the face of the Earth would have been a tragedy as they are really really incredibly beautiful. If anyone is planning a trip to Japan, Kyoto would be my Number 1 recommendation place to visit.

And this one was no less spectacular than all the others, in fact, it may have been my favorite. Kinkaku-ji or Temple of the Golden Pavilion is one of the most famous temples in all of Japan. Kinkaku-ji is a three-story pavilion with the top two stories being covered in pure gold leaf. Each floor of the Kinkaku uses a different architectural style. The first floor, called The Chamber of Dharma Waters, is rendered in shinden-zukuri style, reminiscent of the residential style of the 11th century Heian imperial aristocracy. The second floor, called The Tower of Sound Waves, is built in the style of warrior aristocrats, or buke-zukuri. The third floor is built in traditional Chinese cha'an style, also known as zenshu-butsuden-zukuri. The building is topped with a bronze phoenix.

_MG_8899 copy
_MG_8882 copy
_MG_8909 copy
_MG_8925 copy
_MG_8943 copy
_MG_8936 copy
_MG_8952 copy
_MG_8948 copy
There is a bucket in the middle of all these Buddha statues. The way I took it was, if you make it in the bucket, you have good luck/long life/something really awesome happens to you. Guess who made it in the bucket? This moi.
_MG_8954 copy
_MG_8893 copy

Ryōan-ji (竜安寺) (Kyoto, Japan)

Ryōan-ji (or The Temple of the Peaceful Dragon) is a Zen temple in northwest Kyoto (aka a LONG bike ride from Toji). It used to be the Fujiwara family estate before the Onin War (1467-1477) and then was converted into a Zen temple. Today, the temple is synonymous with Kyoto's most famous Zen Rock Garden. According to Wikipedia, "The garden consists of raked gravel and fifteen moss-covered boulders, which are placed so that, when looking at the garden from any angle (other than from above) only fourteen of the boulders are visible at one time. It is traditionally said that only through attaining enlightenment would one be able to view the fifteenth boulder." Heady.

_MG_8806 copy
_MG_8819 copy
_MG_8810 copy
_MG_8865 copy
_MG_8824 copy
_MG_8837 copy

Japanese beggar?

I can't decide if Japan would be the best or the worst place to be homeless...? Either way, this cat does it in style.
_MG_8691 copy

Toji (東寺) (Kyoto, Japan)

This Buddhist temple was just a short bike ride away from our hostel. Built in 796, it is formally known as Kyō-ō-gokoku-ji (教王護国寺 The Temple for the Defense of the Nation by Means of the King of Doctrines) as it previously functioned as a temple providing protection for the nation. The temple's principal image is of the Medicine Buddha. The pagoda of Tō-ji stands 54.8 m high, and is the tallest wooden tower in Japan.

_MG_8802 copy
_MG_8796 copy

Fushima Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) (Kyoto, Japan)

Day two in Kyoto led us to some of the more well-known temples and shrines. This day we opted for doing it all on bike (vs. bus and walking the day before). An object of Imperial patronage in the early Heian period (794-1185), Fushima Inari Shrine is the shrine of 1000 gates. The earliest structures were built in 711 on the Inariyama hill in southwestern Kyoto (far away from everything else), but the shrine was re-located in 816 on the request of the monk Kūkai. The inner shrine is led to by hundreds of these orange "torii" or gates. This bright vibrant orange is the color to ward off evil spirits in the Shinto religion. It was really sweet.

_MG_8763 copy
_MG_8777 copy
_MG_8752 copy
_MG_8754 copy
_MG_8770 copy
_MG_8787 copy

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kyoto Lens Flare

_MG_8742 copy


_MG_8721 copy
That's right folks, Wasabi and Green Tea KitKats...I got in a lot of trouble for taking this picture :)
_MG_8727 copy
_MG_8706 copy
_MG_8749 copy

Wandering in Gion

_MG_8626 copy
_MG_8630 copy
_MG_8729 copy
_MG_8716 copy
_MG_8618 copy

Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) (Kyoto, Japan)

Kiyomizu-dera takes its name from the waterfall within the complex (kiyomizu means "clear/pure water") and is one of the more famous Buddhist temples in Kyoto. I can't even imagine how spectacular it would be during the fall when the leaves are changing as it was pretty incredible last week. It was the most crowded of all the temples we visited. Built in 1633, Kiyomizu-dera was recently one of 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World. It was also the site for us finally finding our Temple Books! Woot.

_MG_8667 copy
_MG_8660 copy
_MG_8661 copy
_MG_8654 copy
_MG_8675 copy
_MG_8687 copy
_MG_8692 copy

Geisha (芸者) and Maiko (舞妓)

_MG_8598 copy
_MG_8590 copy
_MG_8608 copy
_MG_8606 copy