Japan January 24, 2017 elizabeth.wasson Paul Brians & Paula Elliot’s Trip to Japan, May 1998 Kyoto Hiroshima Miyajima Kurashiki Hiroshima continued Nara Kyoto continued JAPAN: May 13: We landed in Osaka at Kansai Airport and found our train to Kyoto with little trouble. Although we were not at first aware of it, this was to be our first experience with the luxurious shinkansen or “new trunk line” trains which Westerners call “bullet trains.” They fly along on continuously welded steel rails at speeds up to and beyond 200 miles per hour. The seats are large and comfortable, food is always available (mostly boxed bento lunches), seats are reserved, no-smoking cars are provided, and the conductors bow politely to the passengers of each car as they leave it. KYOTO: Buddhist monks are supposed to make their entire income from begging, but their begging style is very passive. The hat tilted down to cover the monk’s face as he chants on this street corner prevents him from appealing for donations with his eyes. He remains entirely passive, relying on the good will and piety of passersby. May 13, 1998. KYOTO: Our first sightseeing expedition was to the southern part of the Sannen-zaka & Ninnen-Zaka walk in eastern Kyoto, beginning with the long hike up the hill through many souvenir stands to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple of the Hosso school, founded in 798 but reconstructed in 1633. Thronged with tourists, most of them Japanese, including lots of school groups. May 14, 1998. KYOTO: The main hall is thronged with Japanese students in uniform. May 14, 1998 KYOTO: Every temple has a drinking/washing fountain in front of it where visitors may purify and refresh themselves. Several featured fanciful spigots like this drooling dragon at the Kiyomizu-dera temple. Japan beats any other country we have been in for availability of drinkable water and clean bathrooms. Yes, including the U.S. May 14, 1998. KYOTO: Performers from the Gion Corner theater in the traditional costumes of apprentice geishas (much more showy that the full geisha’s regalia). These girls wandered around the Gion district posing with tourists and drumming up customers for the show. May 14, 1998. KYOTO: Performers from the Gion Corner theatre in traditional apprentice geisha costumes. The costume of a full geisha is much less showy. May 14, 1998. KYOTO: Canned drink machines are extremely common. Popular brands bear pseudo-Western names in sometimes odd English. This machine features the popular sports drink “Pocari Sweat.” Also common, sweetened chilled coffee beverages in cans. May 14, 1998. KYOTO: Founded in 1605 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyhoshi by his widow Kito no-Mandokoro. A relatively quiet scene, except for this fellow parking his scooter near the entrance. May 14, 1998 Paula looking at the main building of the Kodai-ji Temple. Founded in 1605 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyhoshi by his widow Kito no-Mandokoro. The temple complex includes several buildings, but this is the main shrine. May 14, 1998 KYOTO: Another view of the Kodai-ji Temple grounds, with the gardens designed by Kobori Enshu. It has only been open to the public for a few years, and lacked the throngs we had been experiencing earlier. May 19, 1998 KYOTO: One of two tea houses on the temple grounds designed by the 16th century: inventor of the tea ceremony, Sen-no-Rikyo. KYOTO: One of two tea houses on the temple grounds designed by the 16th century: inventor of the tea ceremony, Sen-no-Rikyo. KYOTO: The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) which was orginally built in 1397 for the retired Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and turned into a temple by his son. Yukio Mishima’s famous novel The Golden Pavilion tells the true story of the monk who burned the original down in 1950. The present building, reconstructed in 1955, is even more golden than the original, which had only its upper story covered in gold leaf. May 16, 1998 KYOTO: The Golden Pavilion built in 1397 May 16, 1998 KYOTO: That’s a phoenix on the top, an appropriate symbol, given the building’s history. May 16, 1998 KYOTO: View of the Ryoanji Temple sand garden, the most famous in Japan. Its 15 rocks cannot be viewed simultaneously except from above. Tradition says that though there are 15 large stones altogether, only the Buddha can see all 15 at once. The pebbles are raked in patterns suggesting water rippling around “islands” of stone. “Sand” gardens are actually made of gravel, and are intended as objects of meditation. May 16, 1998 KYOTO: It should be added that even fewer of them can be photographed at once, unless you were to get permission to climb up on the temple roof. May 16, 1998 KYOTO: The temple also has a moss garden. The Japanese cultivate blocks of moss as we do sod for lawns in our country. HIROSHIMA: View of the grounds of the Hiroshima Peace Park, site of the world’s first atomic bombing (August 6, 1945). Brick crumbled, people evaporated and were burned, and the wood and paper houses were incinerated. Resistance was strong for many years to creating the park, but it is now a center for world peace activities. From the balcony of the museum, facing toward the memorial arch. Rear center is the “peace dome”–the concrete and steel exhibition hall that was directly under ground zero. Just to its left is a huge baseball stadium. In the background, modern Hiroshima. May 17, 1998 HIROSHIMA: This monument, The Peace Arch, lists all the names of the known victims. It is acknowledged that for decades the enslaved Koreans who died were ignored at the site; but their deaths are now honored alongside those of their captors. In the background at left, the “atomic bomb dome.” May 17, 1998 HIROSHIMA: This commercial exposition hall was the only reinforced concrete structure at ground zero, and was left standing after the dropping of the atomic bomb. It has become a symbol of the bombing, and has actually been “restored” to keep it in the precise state of ruin it was in 1945. Just to the right of the dome is visible a bank of lights for the adjacent baseball stadium. Hiroshima is a very modern city. May 17, 1998 HIROSHIMA: Thousands of folded paper cranes are sent by school children to Hiroshima every day where they are placed on several statues. Here some cartons of them have been rather unceremoniously dumped at the foot of a sculpture of a mother holding her dead children. May 17, 1998 HIROSHIMA: A school group in front of the monument to Sadako, the girl who began the tradition of folding paper cranes. She hoped to regain her health and failed; others imitate her as a symbol of their desire for peace. Note the draped strings of colored paper cranes at right. May 17, 1998 MIYAJIMA: May 18: We took a ferry to the island of Miyajima. One of its famous tame deer greeted us shortly after we landed. MIYAJIMA: Note the Japanese penchant for improving on nature–an artificial cascade has been added to this stream in the foreground. Taken along the path to the chairlift up Mt. Mizen on Miyajima Island, one of the famed beauty spots of Japan. May 18, 1998 MIYAJIMA: This is the first major temple on the way up Mt. Misen. In it a pot that is reputed to have been boiling steadily ever since the monk Kobo Daishi (774-835) used it to boil his dinner: sort of a variation on the “eternal flame” theme. Note the supply of firewood on the left. He is reputed to have invented the classic Japanese rice paddle, so such paddles are sold throughout the island as souvenirs. May 18, 1998 MIYAJIMA: One of several small shrines along the path up Mt. Misen, Miyajima Island. May 18, 1998 MIYAJIMA: The top of Mt. Misen is littered with huge, remarkably shaped stones, some of which shelter images like this one. Note the crocheted bib on the right-hand image of Jizo, Buddhist saint and protector of children. It is traditional for parents seeking help for an ailing child or hoping to improve its lot after death to dress a Jizo statue in a red bib. May 18, 1998 MIYAJIMA: Part of the headquarters of the Buddhist Shingon sect. May 18, 1998 MIYAJIMA: The tide was out and deer were grazing where water normally surrounds the Itsukushima Shrine, which is actually an old palace containing a famous Noh stage. The first palace on this site was built in the latter half of the 6th century, but the current buildings date from 1168. Note the lights in the stone lantern. It was getting late, and they came on as we were walking by. One old man was out clam-digging in the flats. MIYAJIMA: This torii, anchored firmly in the tidal flats just offshore from the Itshukushima Shrine, is a famous symbol of Japan, seen here at sunset, and low tide. May 18, 1998 HIROSHIMA: Misleadingly called “Japanese pizza,” okonomiaki is a popular food in parts of Japan, especially in Hiroshima. The customer chooses from a wide variety of ingredients, including various vegetables and–in this case–fried noodles (a specialty of Hiroshima), and the whole is formed into a cake, fused together with egg, and fried on a grill in front of you, brushed with a “syrup” that gives okonomiaki it’s distinctive taste. These are tiny, informal joints specializing in fast food. The result is delicious, but nothing like pizza. May 18, 1998 HIROSHIMA: Few ancient Japanese castles survived the ravages of time–they were made largely of wood. One that did was the castle at Hiroshima, until it was utterly destroyed by the atomic bombing of the city in 1945. The building and grounds have been lovingly restored, and are a major tourist attraction for school groups and others, with exhibits of armor, pottery, etc., including a lively 3-D animated laser cartoon played out on a model of the castle, explaining how it was originally built. Ground zero was practically next door. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: Detail showing the towering donjon fortress of Hiroshima Castle. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: Moat running along the wall of the reconstructed Hiroshima Castle grounds, photographed from on top of the wall, which now encloses a museum. In the distance on the left, the Hiroshima baseball stadium. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: In the castle museum, we tried out a traditional hanging drum. HIROSHIMA: Paula in a traditional taiko posture. HIROSHIMA: Created in 1630 by Ueda Soko, tea master to Daimyo Asario Nagasakira. This is a “shrink-scenery” garden, meant to reproduce in miniature the landscape of Xihu Lake in Hangzhou, China. You have to read carefully to discover that this is a modern recreation of a landmark utterly obliterated by the atom bomb in 1945. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: Created in 1630 by Ueda Soko, tea master to Daimyo Asario Nagasakira. This is a “shrink-scenery” garden, meant to reproduce in miniature the landscape of Xihu Lake in Hangzhou, China. You have to read carefully to discover that this is a modern recreation of a landmark utterly obliterated by the atom bomb in 1945. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: The old garden was obliterated by the bomb. This is a reconstruction, somewhat smaller than the original. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: Every tree and shrub in such a garden is carefully pruned to produce an artistic impression. We saw many gardeners doing such work. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: One of ten artificial islands in the garden. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: A small building in the traditional style called the “Seikishoan”. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: The Y-y Tei, a platform for viewing the garden on the edge of the pond. HIROSHIMA: Traditional construction techniques used in constructing such a hut are clearly visible in this shot of the interior of the thatched roof. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: Traditional stone lantern in the reconstructed Shukkuren Garden. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: This tea cottage is built using a different architectural style on each of its sides. May 19, 1998 HIROSHIMA: One of Hiroshima’s many variegated trolleys. It is said that the reason they have so many different models in different colors is that they bought them second-hand from other cities after the war. May 19, 1998 KURASHIKI: We took the train to Kurashiki, a picturesque village about an hour’s north of Kyoto by Shinkansen. It prides itself on Western art culture. Its claim to fame is its numerous museums. So art-conscious is the town that this full-scale reproduction of the Winged Victory greets passengers in the waiting room of the local train station. May 19, 1998 KURASHIKI: The little canal running along the main street is the focus of most tourist photography. It is lined with vendors of various souvenirs, ice cream cones, etc. We ate lunch at a posh English tea salon in the fancy hotel here, in Ivy Square. May 20, 1998 KURASHIKI: A fine house near the canal. May 20, 1998 KURASHIKI: The roof of this antique shop is decorated with figurines of the old RCA Victor symbol, “Nippeer,” who listened to “His Master’s Voice.” May 20, 1998 KURASHIKI: Decorative Koi, or carp, in the garden pond at the Ohara Museum, Kurashiki. May 20, 1998 NARA: May 21: We took the shinkansen to Nara, the city which was briefly (710-794) the capital of Japan before Kyoto. Considering that Japan’s civilization does not go back many centuries earlier than this, it is astonishing how many remnants of the old imperial culture have been preserved. A colorful temple near the beginning of our walk. It was near the Kofuku-ji Temple, which we failed to identify (or photograph). NARA: Tame deer wander in front of this pagoda in the vast park at Nara. Vendors sell small seed “cookies” to feed the deer. May 21, 1998 NARA: Paul and Paula preparing to enter the Yoshikien Garden, comprising a pond, moss garden, a tea ceremony hut. NARA: Mounds of azaleas blossom along this stream in this famous Isui-en Gardens. May 21, 1998 NARA: We couldn’t figure out what the straw structure surrounding the base of the shrub in the water was. NARA: A glimpse into the cottage used for tea ceremonies. Like most Japanese traditional architecture, it is very open to the outside. NARA: This restaurant is in classic Japanese style, with sliding panels and tatami mats on the floor. May 21, 1998 NARA: After lunch we explored the fabulous Nara National Museum, which emphasizes Buddhism, but no photography was allowed.We then moved on through the gateway to the famed Todai-ji Temple. May 21, 1998 NARA: Reputed to be the largest wooden building in the world and one of the most famous temples in Japan, thronged with crowds.It was first built in 746, destroyed in a war, and rebuilt somewhat less wide but as tall and deep as it had been in 1709. May 21, 1998 NARA: The main entrance, giving a clearer view of the gigantic size of this building. NARA: For centuries this was the largest cast-metal Buddha in the world, made of 437 tons of bronze. The original was even larger, but it was destroyed in an earthquake. To get a sense of scale, note the white dishes holding oranges on the left and right. In the Daibutsu Hall, Todai-ji Temple, Nara. May 21, 1998 NARA: A smaller image of an incarnation of the Buddha, seated to the left of the famous giant bronze Buddha in the center of the main altar of the Daibutsu Hall. Another such image is on the right side. May 21, 1998 NARA: This guardian spirit holds a writing brush in his right hand. May 21, 1998 NARA: Walkways and auxiliary buildings beside the large square in front of the Daibutsu Temple. May 21, 1998 NARA: The capital from one of the famous pillars erected all over India by the Emperor Asoka, here forming part of a shrine to international Buddhism and peace. May 21, 1998 NARA: Climbing stairs through pleasant woods, we stumbled upon the lovely Nigatsu-do Hall. It was closed, and our guidebook said nothing about it, but it was a delightful spot. Because it was after closing time, we could not go in, but we walked around the ample porches and enjoyed the many interesting paintings on Buddhist themes hanging beneath the eaves. NARA: Part of the Todai-ji Temple complex. This is The temple fountain. In this building, closed to the public, is a famous eleven-faced image of Kannon, Bodhisattva of mercy. The original structure was built in 752, but the present building dates from 1669, after the original burned. It is the site of an annual very popular water festival: Omizu-tori. May 21, 1998 NARA: Part of the Todai-ji Temple complex. Its dragon spout. May 21, 1998 NARA: Cast in 732, this 96,000 lb bell is one of the most famous symbols of Japan. May 21, 1998 NARA: This huge bronze bell rivals the Liberty Bell in national significance, but considerably outweighs it. NARA: It takes 15 monks to swing the ram that rings it. NARA: Deer in the park bedding down peacefully for the night. These deer are very tame, used to being hand-fed deer “cookies” by tourists. NARA: Young stag using the men’s room, grounds of the Todai-ji Temple, Nara. May 21, 1998 NARA: Japanese restaurants commonly display elaborately detailed plastic models of the food they serve. You have only to point to a dish that looks good to order. May 21, 1998 NARA: May 22: Since we had to wait for our train to Kobe, we spent some time exploring the food displays in a department store connected to the Kyoto train station. Here are expensive melons, lavishly presented. NARA: Expensive melons, lavishly presented. Japan is the land of excess packaging. In a bakery, each roll is separately wrapped, then the whole put in a plastic bag. Buy a carton of juice and that gets its own bag too. May 22, 1998 NARA: May 23: We took a very long bus ride from the city center to the grounds of the Horyuji Temple, a large complex of shrines and other buildings. There is some dispute about how much remains of the original 7th century construction, but much of it is very old. Some of them are among the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures. This is the view from the gateway toward the Kondo (main hall—6th-8th C.). NARA: The Five-Story Pagoda, the oldest such pagoda in Japan, dating from some time before 800. NARA: The Kondo Hall is the main building of the Sai-in Temple, the oldest part of the Horyuji Temple complex. First built in 7th C., rebuilt after fire destroyed the original in 711. May 21, 1998 NARA: The “Great Lecture Hall,” part of the Horyuji Temple complex, built at the end of the 8th Century, rebuilt in 990. May 21, 1998 NARA: Replica of a lantern showing flute-playing spirits in front of an unidentified temple. The original is in a museum in Nara. May 21, 1998 NARA: Replica of six-sided lantern in front of unidentified temple, Nara. May 21, 1998 NARA: The sunshade noren cloths at this temple were particularly handsome, here bearing a traditional crane pattern. NARA: Fierce guardians like these flank the entrances to many Buddhist temples. They are not demons, but guardians against evil forces. May 21, 1998 NARA: The companion sculpture, on the right. NARA: This Chinese-style lion decorates the base of a lantern in front of one of the buildings in the complex. May 21, 1998 NARA: The Hall of Visions at the Yaakushiji Temple Complex, containing an ancient “hidden statue” of Shotoko Taichi as an emanation of Kannon, shown only one day a year (no . . . not this day).. May 21, 1998 NARA: In the neighboring nunnery complex is the Chugu-ji, originally situated a mile east in Ikaruga, built as part of the palace of the Empress Anahobe no Hashibito, mother of Prince Shotoku. NARA: Originally situated a mile east in Ikaruga, and built in the early 7th century as part of the palace of the Empress Anahobe no Hashibito, Mother of Prince Shotoku. After her death, it was rededicated by her son as part of a Buddhist nunnery and moved to the site in Nara now called the Chugu-ji Temple. May 21, 1998 NARA: The Goju-no-To, a brightly painted example of a classic pagoda. May 21, 1998 NARA: Nara is very proud of its architectural history. This recent house had traditional fierce-looking guardian spirit images on its roof. May 21, 1998 NARA: Another fierce-looking guardian spirit images on its roof. May 21, 1998 NARA: May 24: Back in Kyoto it was a rainy day, so we decided to explore museums and temples. Our first stop was the costume museum on the top floor of an elegant fabric dealer. They had recreated the costumes Genji gave his various wives and lovers in one chapter of Lady Murasaki’s Genji Monogatari (Tale of Genji). The figures, looking rather interchangeable, were placed in a scale model of Genji’s palace as it’s described in the novel. This scene depicts Genji at work, surrounded by typical furnishings of the period. May 24, 1998 KYOTO: Ladies wore their hair long and straight. It could be washed only on certain auspicious days of the month. Washing it must have been a major chore for the serving maids. And imagine combing it out!May 24, 1998 KYOTO: Small temple on the grounds of the temple. Also spelled Nishi Hongwanji: headquarters of the international sect of Jodo Buddhism. The temple was established under Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi in in 1591. May 24, 1998 KYOTO: One of two Noh theatre stages on the grounds of the Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto. May 24, 1998 KYOTO: Called “all-day” gate because its profuse ornamentation could take all day to examine. May 24, 1998 KYOTO: A few details of the ornate carving on the gate. May 24, 1998 KYOTO: The Hiunkaku (Flying Cloud Pavilion), constructed by Toyomi Hideyioshi as part of the Jurakudai. May 24, 1998 KYOTO: It was raining fairly steadily, so the Prefectural Art Museum seemed just the ticket. The old buildings, now used for special exhibitions, date from the late 19th century when European influence was strong. The exhibits of traditional Asian arts here were fabulous, and we stayed until closing time. KYOTO: We headed for Himeji-jo, the most famous and best-preserved castle in Japan. Swans and carp were swimming in the outer castle moat. What remains of Himeji is a fragment of a much larger fortress town. The remaining castle was built by Toytomi Hideyoshi in 1580 and enlarged by his successor Ikeda Terumasa 30 years later. The castle was occupied by 48 successive feudal lords. May 25, 1998 KYOTO: View of Japan’s best-preserved castle from the grounds. The remaining castle was built by Toytomi Hideyoshi in 1580 and enlarged by his successor Ikeda Terumasa 30 years later. The castle was occupied by 48 successive feudal lords.May 25, 1998 KYOTO: View from the front of the castle. May 25, 1998 KYOTO: The “water chestnut” gate, named after ornaments not visible in this picture May 25, 1998 KYOTO: View of the castle grounds from the topmost tower, with the women’s quarters in the long, low building on the right. Modern Himeji city in the background. May 25, 1998 KYOTO: May 26: For our last day, we decided to take the “Philosopher’s Walk,“ starting at the Ginkakuji Temple. It is called the “Silver Pavilion” although the original plan to coat it in silver as the Kinkakuji was coated in gold was never carried out. KYOTO: Side view of the facade of the “Silver Temple.” May 26, 1998 KYOTO: Pond in the Ginkakuji Garden. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: This artfully raked bed of sand designed in the early Edo period (17th C.), is called Ginshaden (sea of silver sand) and is meant to represent a famous Chinese lake, with ripples striped by moonlight. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: A carefully shaped conical pile is meant to represent Mt. Fuji. This is as close as we got to the real thing. KYOTO: Moss gardens need to be carefully swept to maintain their velvety surface. Traditional Japanese gardens are highly labor intensive. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: Side view of the facade of the “Silver Temple.” May 26, 1998 KYOTO: Traditional bamboo fence. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: This famous walk parallels a pleasant little canal along a street lined with fine houses and several important Buddhist temples. Tourist Paula Elliot walks along the path. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: Nice lion. The cord dangling down is used to ring a gong or bell—a feature of many temples. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: The Zenrin-ji Temple has lovely gardens, but it was not as tranquil as it looked because there was a kindergarten next door. It sounded uncannily like the city pool in summer. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: This is the head temple of the Jodo shu (Pure Land Buddhist) cult. Like many such monasteries and temples, its walkways continuously point the visitor toward nature in the form of beautiful gardens threaded through by walkways. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: Worshipers ring these bells as part of their rituals. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: The white strip is a carefully raked rectangular pile of sand. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: Cleanliness-conscious Japanese customers get fancy seat covers in taxis; the drivers wear white gloves. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: Aqueduct bringing water from nearby Lake Biwa into the city. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: A carved wooden transom. Note the way in which only the underside of eave details is painted white to highlight the structure. KYOTO: A group of recent junior-high graduates sent out by their teacher to interview foreign tourists in order to practice their English, very common assignment which results typically in very little real communication but illustrates how safe Japanese society is. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: The Nanzen-ji Temple was a great way to end our walk—by far the most beautiful and restful temple we had been in, arranged so that beautiful natural views are available from each room. KYOTO: View across a moss garden from one wing of the temple to another. Like other temples, this was originally built as a villa, for the retired Emperor Kameyama; but upon his death in 1291 it was converted to religious uses. Emperors used to be required to retire upon the birth of an heir, which kept the imperial family safely weak and led to a large leisured class of reasonably young retirees. The present buildings are a 17th-century reconstruction, the headquarters of the Rinzai school of Zen. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: The “leaping tiger” garden, named after the paintings in nearby chambers. KYOTO: Another stone garden on the grounds. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: We saw rickshaws like this in Nara too, including one being vigorously pulled by a young woman. KYOTO: Elaborate designs on bolts of paper in a shop founded in 1845. May 26, 1998 KYOTO: On our last evening, we sought out a sukiyaki place we had enjoyed before, in Pontocho. This photo tour ends with a shot of the brilliantly lit night life along nearby Kawaramachi-doro.