Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kyoto – the first day

Craig has some mandatory vacation time this past week, RIKEN was closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so the building could get a good cleaning, so we decided to take a stay-cation. Kyoto is about an hour and a half away by train and we've been told it takes two days to see all the sights so we went Monday and returned on Tuesday.

At the first place we visited a group of school boys bravely came over and asked us if we'd answer some questions. This isn't the first time this has happened. I can't imagine a teacher in the states giving kids an assignment to find some foreigners and ask them some questions but it seems like popular HW here. I got asked if I liked Japanese food. Craig was asked if he liked Japanese women. I answered that one for him.

I honestly can't remember the names of all the temples and shrines we went to. It was a lot. Kyoto is full of them and they're all old. Not as old as Nara because Kyoto became the capital after Nara, but most were established in the 1100 to 1300's range. Usually the buildings we were seeing weren't the original because the original had been lost in a fire but a reproduction built in the 1400's or some other time before the USA was even a country.

The first place we went to was Daitokuji Temple. The gardens were Zen. There was lots of moss and rocks. They don't do grass. We went to one garden were I wasn't allowed to take pictures. They had, in English, descriptions of what the rock arrangements symbolized.

Next we headed to the Golden Pavilion AKA the Kinkakuji Temple. It is literally a gold plated building. It was originally a retirement villa for a 12th century Shogun. The building was rebuilt in the 1950's after an obsessed monk burned the old one to the ground.

Ryoanji Temple was restored in the 15th century. The high point is the Zen garden that consists of 15 rocks in five groupings “in which nature is compressed and given abstract expression within the confines of a very narrow space.”

As is consistent with our experience in Japan, the last temple on our list closed at 4:30pm so we weren't able to see much. There were some very intricately carved wooden doors.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing pictures! You're giving me a desire to see Japan that I didn't have before. lol Whats with the rows and rows of little statues (the 2nd and 5th pictures down)? They look cool but I'm unsure of what they are/mean.