Shrines, Shoguns and Geishas – a Magical Day in Kyoto

March 22, 2014

We are on sensory overload and walked out to boot. I will try to summarize an amazing day. We got our all bus passes and a route map and headed out. After the poor weather yesterday, we were prepared for anything. Luckily there was no rain although it was definitely on the cool side. No matter. The bus was pretty easy to figure out and we even figured out the system for using the pass. This is not always as easy as you might think. I remember almost getting arrested in Budapest by incorrectly entering my pass. Back to today.

First stop was the Kiyomizu-dear Temple complex. It is probably Kyoto’s top attraction. We got there early and were thankful. The main hall is huge and suspended in the air with a massive timber foundation. The temple itself was founded even before Kyoto in 778. To get there we needed to cross some of the Otani Cemetery. Many folks were washing the memorials and placing flowers. I assume that is part of the holiday activity.
The main hall sits like many of the shrines on the hillside looking over the city. The timber foundation is massive and all mortise and tenon.

There are a number of lesser shrines. People line up to drink from the small Otowa waterfall. We passed. Also encountered the Japanese Cupid and his rabbit. You can guess what they good for. The Japanese like to rub things even more than the Chinese. There are stones and statues and strange little lawn ornament size sculptures that wear aprons. Reiko will have to explain.

Saw guys on ladders pruning pine needles. My neighbor needs to get with it. We also saw good reasons to never have a lawn. The gardeners were trimming on their hands and knees with snips or something smaller.

We were fortunate to arrive early as the place was the victim of the tour busses that arrived as we were leaving. We then continued along a street of souvenirs known as Tea Pot Alley before reaching a quiet tourist street filled with historic houses and shops.

Encountered a number of young girls in Kimonos. I took a group picture and they thanked me. One beauty said she loved me. It was a very short affair. There were also Ninja pedi-cab drivers. The camera did not rest all day.

Our next big stop was at Kodai-ji by the widow of the first Tokugowa Shogun (I think I have that right). It was a remarkable place on a diminutive scale compared to the other shrines. Wonderful gardens and scenes of kimono clad girls that could have been taken 400 years ago.

Finally turned south and walked through the colorful Yasaka-jinja shrine. I bought some street food. Peggy passed. We soon walked through the old Gion Geisha street. Plenty of tourists, no Geishas. Caught a bus to the first Shogun’s part time palace, Nijo-Jo Palace.

We removed our shoes to wander through the Shogun’s place. It was making the floors squeak like a “Nightingale”. This was the early warning system for Ninjas and other unwanted visitors. The woodworking was exquisite. We then wander through his garden. Its good to be a Shogun.

Big stone walls and moats could not stop time. Eventually the Shogun turns over the reigns of government to the Emperor in 1867 and the Capitol moves to Edo AKA Tokyo. Kyoto was never bombed in WWII because it lacked industry and someone must have convinced the US Air Force to leave the city standing. We did see some plantings of Phoenix trees that survived being 1.5 kilometers from the center of the Hiroshima blast. A bus ride back and Peggy is napping and we need to get some food for her and a beer for me.

It was a great day.

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4 thoughts on “Shrines, Shoguns and Geishas – a Magical Day in Kyoto

  1. I don’t know about you, but Japan is suiting my vicarious traveler’s aesthetic sensibilities more than China. The gardeners and pine needle pluckers are apparently volunteers, according to my late friend and Oriental expert Tom. Synchronistically, I spent yesterday evening plucking dry needles from the rosemary bush and thyme lawn–a relaxing pastime that turns you on to the concept of infinity. Wonderful “tour”! Thanks for doing the legwork.

  2. We just came home to a phone message from Bobbi. She says she can receive your emails (and/or blogs?) but is unable to respond, because something is wrong with her keyboard. She asked me to let you know, so that you aren’t worried if you don’t hear from her. She included that Goldie is fine, too.

    I left her a message saying that if she would like John to take a look at her computer, I would roust him out.

  3. Wow! Kyoto looks amazing. Mom wanted me to let you know that her keyboard is not working but she (and Goldie) are fine. I’m going up to the Ridge tomorrow to check in on her.

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