Tuesday, April 22
Sunday morning, bright and early (kind of) at 10am, we headed off to Kyoto. The 45 minute train ride went by quickly in good company, and we chatted up religion, beliefs, reading, books, etc. We had some lunch (yummy!) and then explored Eastern Kyoto. You can find all my photos here.
We visited Yasaka Shrine (the same one I went to last week, when I dressed up as a Geisha/Maiko with Satomi and Mai). We wandered through and past Yasaka, and into a beautiful Sakura (Cherry Tree) area - and it still had some beautiful blossoms! We spent a few minutes there snapping photos of all kinds before moving on.
We visited several temples and shrines with some beautiful history and architecture. I find it all fascinating - I suppose partially because it's new to me, and partially because there is so much about the history, traditions, and culture that I don't understand. The prayers to the ancestors, the washing in the fountains, the shrines, incense, coins...it's all outside of my world.
At Ryozen Kwannon - a memorial to the soldiers who died in World War II, there is a 24m statue, and Japan's largest stone footprint of Buddha. When you pay the fee to enter the memorial area, you are given incense to place in a large pot. Ceremonies are performed four times each day in memory of the two million Japanese who died in the war. There are several shrines, including those to the gods of wind and thunder. Beside the massive statue are the footprints - that people throw coins onto for good luck. Inside the statue is another series of shrines - 12 for the signs, and some other Buddhas.
We wandered to Kiyomizu Temple, but didn't stay long - we were running out of time. The streets on the way there were filled with shops and such - infinite things to look at! We decided to leave Kiyomizu for another day (so we could properly visit and explore it), and made our way back down into Kyoto. We met up with Eric & JP for a nabe dinner, and then train'd back home. It was a great day - the weather was beautiful. Although - we got just a hint of the Japanese summer in the afternoon, and it was HOT! And from what I'm told...that's nothing. The summer should be a fun adventure. There's so much more I could write and describe, but I could probably describe forever! Check out the pictures (once again - here), and come visit me if you really want to see! Hehe.
PS - We also saw this little guy - adorable!