Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kicking It in Kyoto (so to speak)- December 7, 2010

For this post, I will use my dear Japanese friend and guide's itinerary for the day as a template, filling it in with a few observations and pictures.

10:00 We arrived at  Nishihongan-ji  (temple), not far from our hotel at the train station- the Kyoto Granvia.  The temple is Shin Buddhist (teaching is Jodo Shinshu (The True Essence of Pure Land Buddhist Teaching)), founded by Shinran Shonin, and sits on the site of the founder's mausoleum.  We entered through the Amidado Gate and visited the Amidado (Daisho-in) Hall dedicated to the Amida Buddha,  and the Goeido Hall (Founder's Hall) dedicated to Shinran.  Behind the temple was a temple preschool where we saw lovely 3-5 year olds playing in the yard.

Amidadomon Gate to Nishihongan-ji 
 Nishihongan-ji  precincts Goeido Hall on right

Buddhist altar in Goeido Hall

 Nishihongan-ji  Preschool

11:00  We arrived at To-ji   (East Temple), a World Heritage site, also not far from the Kyoto Station.  To-ji boasts a pagoda which is the highest wooden tower in Japan. The temple was established in 796 and represents the Shingon school of Buddhism.  Like most places in Japan, what we saw at To-ji were reconstructions.  The pagoda we saw, for example, was rebuilt in the late 17th century.  Our friend updated her temple book with calligraphy which I was allowed to photograph.
Autumn colors at To-ji

Quince tree at To-ji
To-ji Pagoda up close

To-ji Pagoda 
Calligraphy in temple book
12:30  We had lunch at a Japanese restaurant “Hisago” in Higashiyama district.  The specialty is “oyakodon”, rice bowl with chicken and semi-cooked egg.

13:15  We passed through a nice alley called Ishibe-koji to the foot of Kodai-ji.. We got a photo from a distance  of a war memorial for Japanese soldiers in WW2,  Ryozen Kannon (Bodhisattva AvalokiteĊ›vara ) near Kodai-ji.

Ryozen Kannon
13:25  We walked down a street called “Ninenzaka” which is toward Kiyomizu Temple.  On the way, I found a store dedicated to the fabulous Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro).  We also saw an ad to dress up as a geisha, hanging monkey soft sculptures on many of the shops and a five-storied pagoda called “Yasaka-no-to".

dress like a geisha (geiko, maiko) ad

Monkeys ©Paul Hoffman 2010
14:10   We arrived at Kennin-ji, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, and one of my favorite places in Japan. Highlights included the rock gardens and the dragon ceiling. I will let the pictures do the talking.

Hattou at Kennin-ji
Rock garden at Kennin-ji
Rock garden at Kennin-ji
Rock garden at Kennin-ji ©Paul Hoffman 2010

Rock garden at Kennin-ji
Grounds at Kennin-ji
Grounds at Kennin-ji

Chouontei Garden at Kennin-ji
Dragon ceiling at Kennin-ji
Rock garden at Kennin-ji

15:15   After leaving Kennin-ji, we walked on the street called “Hanami-koji”.  On the way, we saw Yasaka Shrine on the far corner of the Shijo Dori street, and Minami-za Kabuki Theater.

15:40   We took a rest at the Japanese tea house “Izutsu Yatsuhasi Honpo”

16:20    We passed over  Shijo Ohashi Bridge.  At that point, my husband  took a walk on the Teramachi street, while my friend and I looked  at Takashimaya department store.  The store reminded me of an upscale American department store with higher prices--nothing I could justify affording, not even a small t-shirt or toy.

17:00   We finished the day with dinner at the vegetarian restaurant “Miko-an” run by a former Buddhist nun, always peace activist  with a penchant for cats.
Minami-za Kabuki Theater ©Reiko Yabu 2010

Hanging with one of the many cats at Miko-an ©Reiko Yabu 2010
All photos not otherwise attributed are ©Maggie Heim 2010.

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