Archive for the ‘Kiyomizudera’ Tag

Kyoto: Today was a good day, I met Superman.

 

 

Kinkakuji

Kinkakuji

Random Observation/Comment #77: The title of the entry may sound confusing, but it was just a random comment because we saw someone that looked like Clark Kent while walking around Kiyomizudera.  It was the smallest comment with the shortest joke lifespan possible, but I still remembered it so well.  I remembered it well because I remember every little thing from this day as if I had written all the details the second after they happened.

 

In the past 2 months of living in Osaka, Kyoto was one of my favorite weekend visits.  It was only 40 minutes away on the Hankyu line, and there were enough shrines and temples to keep me entertained for a whole week of consistent tourism.  I hesitated visiting the well-known tourist areas, but the place that I wound up visiting twice (Kiyomizudera) was actually well worth the second visit.  The first visit made the city below look mysterious like a foggy Silent Hill, haunted with murderers and paranormal investigations.  This time, though, the atmosphere was much less ominous and much more welcoming.  There were other people I knew there to help me take pictures and perform those tourist activities, like walking the love stone path (I made it!  Love should come soon (. . )>).

After the temple meditation, we continued exploring the North-West area of Kyoto near Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion).  There, we found a very famous rock garden filled with 15 large stones, only noticed by the enlightened (well I guess I just couldn’t see it from where I was standing).  The garden doesn’t really have a concrete documentation of the original meaning, but many have hypothesized that it represents a map of Japan. 

In case you’re not familiar with rock gardens, it’s exactly what you would expect from the given name.  Little gray pebbles of approximately the same size are carefully groomed by a rake to create perfect ruffles.  The patterns look like little waves which circle around the larger rocks embedded in their artistically placed locations.  The turtle rock garden near Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) was much less crowded and a little bit more beautiful, in my opinion.  At the end of the day – no matter the sight – it was nice to just sit down and poke Yuka’s brain about Japanese history and use this opportunity to take advantage of this knowledge at her (and my) fingertips.

Due to the popularity of these major tourist attractions, there was barely any room to breathe, let alone take pictures without 20 tourists sneaking into the frame.  Although my frustration levels were a little higher than usual, I still stayed patient to do my routine poses and weird angle shots with the temple behind me.  The Golden Pavilion looked mythical from across the pond.  Its reflection in the undisturbed water enhanced the overall glow of the structure.  I think a major contribution to this glow might be that layer of gold completely covering the windows, doors, and balconies.  The view was so nice that I would rather be one of the lords living right outside than the person living inside.  I guess it would be pretty cool to be surrounded in gold.  If that’s not the definition of royalty, I don’t know what is.

From Kinkakuji, we took the bus to Kiyomizudera and walked around the main area.  It was the same temple, but a new experience with the additional friendly conversation and history lessons.  This temple is usually crowded (since it is one of the most commented temples in all guidebooks), but today it was exceptionally crowded because of the special praying rules of the week.  Apparently, there is a window of opportunity to pray and make wishes in this particular temple that count for 1000 wishes or 1000 visits (it might be 100, I’m not too sure).  Basically, if you’re willing to wait on queue to pray on this day, you’re set for the next year. 

It seems that this temple is famous for the crazy looking chubby guy that looks like the boss from Kirby’s Dream Land (Yes, he even has a hammer).  This is the god of business prosperity, so treat him with respect (he likes candy and the souls of investment bankers).

When the customs and meanings of each of the temple’s little statues and activities were explained, the significance of the temple became much clearer.  The first visit left the impression of a simple beauty in scenery.  Now, I see this place spawns hope in so many hidden decorations.  An architectural amazement – The entire temple does not use a single nail to maintain structural static equilibrium (that’s my nerdy side talking).  A spiritual pool – Each god follows a cleansing of spirit that will help you dissolve your fears, repel your bad luck, and bring fortune to your future.  An artist’s dream – every detail is carefully etched and molded bringing their wildest imaginations behind your eyelids.  This temple offers another step towards Zen.  I wonder how much it would cost to reserve the entire place for a wedding proposal (I guess there will always be a side of my brain that thinks like a hopeless romantic). 

~See Lemons Love Kyoto

 

postcard perfect

postcard perfect

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Kyoto again: Kiyomizu Temple is a must-see

Kiyomizudera is beautiful

Kiyomizudera is beautiful

Random Observation/Comment #34: Pachinko and slot places are freakin’ loud. I think the objective of the gambling machine is to deafen the user and then mesmerize them with random videogame screenshots as they feed in more cash.

People are way too enthusiastic and awake at 7AM on a Saturday morning. All the old people have already started their routine walks, and all the tour guides have pushed it upon the tourists to get the most out of their vacation by checking off their temple sight-seeing locations. Only the businessmen in suits and college students looked a little dreary at their long day ahead. And where did I fit in? I was hung-over from the night before, stumbling with 3 hours of sleep, and led by my delusional view of the world. I shuffled with the morning crowd as a zombie – I guess I wasn’t that different.

As I mentioned before, Kyoto is filled with culture. There are dozens of temples and shrines sprinkled throughout the culture areas, but I consider only a handful of major attractions. I think you can experience most of this in 5 days. Each day would be filled with miles upon miles of pebbled paths and streets filled with small houses, but you would absorb as much culture as you can endure. I suggest taking breaks to some city areas instead of trying to spend 5 consecutive days experiencing this beast. There’s too much walking and all the white folks would probably get burnt after the first day out in the sun. Now I see why there are so many umbrellas even though there’s not a cloud in the sky.

This walk was centered on Kiyomizudera, which was highly suggested by every person I asked about Kyoto sightseeing for the past three months. The hype was built up, and for some reason I expected a bit of disappointment compared to my imagination. From the postcard pictures and website images, I built the image of a glowing dragon made of leaves, encircling an enormous temple on the overhang of a cliff. Its scales would be fluttering in the cool breeze and shimmering with the reflections of fiery desire for attention. This may sound difficult to compare, or even top, without the changing leave colors from the autumn foliage, but trust me when I say that the view was spectacular.

I didn’t imagine the layers of detail with every type of tree surrounding the temple. The design of the two temples facing each other (and the rest of the country side) was so well anticipated for the view of peace, beauty, and a hint of insignificance. I stood there motionless, staring across to see Kyoto tower in the distance. My arm rested on the ledge with my head pouched across my palm, but my soul was gliding across the tree tops and seeing this view from all angles. The temple was CAD-ed into my brain and I marveled at this creation that would act as my memory and inspiration for years to come. Please judge it for yourself.

I walked from Kawaramachi station to reach Kiyomizudera, but visited many different temples and shrines before reaching this treasure. Although Kiyomizudera cannot be topped in beauty in my eyes, I would not have wanted to go there without seeing the other temples. I felt that this portion of Kyoto was geared towards the much larger temples with cemeteries and active prayers. To me, it seemed more of a place of grief than wishful prayers. The fewer number of shrines and monotonous deep-toned hymns of the temple monks induced different emotions. It sounded like respect and dedication. The graves stretched across the mountainside like rice fields. I refrained from taking too many pictures, but left with a bit of happiness for being alive, healthy, and in good company.

I got extremely lost walking towards Kiyomizudera because I thought it was going to be less crowded (at least I wasn’t the only one lost). The key is to follow the crowd of touristy looking people with maps and khaki shorts – I laugh. You’ll see a lot of tourist shops with cheap merchandise perfect for gifts to your friends, family, and loved ones back home. The soy donuts and ice cream are recommended. Hint: Dip the donut into the ice cream for a delicious blend. It reminds me of my mom’s famous French fries and ice cream concoction.

The best part about Kyoto is the random men and women dressed in traditional kimono outfits. They walk side-by-side with a beautiful umbrella held by the woman. I have no idea why they dress up, but it gives a much desired texture to my pictures.

The Kiyomizudera entrance fee is 300 yen, but I think people would pay much more for the pictures and gorgeous view. There’s a small area of charm shops and little shrines on the left after walking past the first temple. This is a great place to buy those lucky charms because they’ve been the cheapest I’ve seen out of all the temples I’ve visited in Kyoto and Nara. Some of them are only 300 yen, and they are very pretty. Here, you’ll also find a few interesting rituals, like the Love stone (walking from one stone to another to find love), and also the patting of the bronze buddah for your wishes to be answered.

Continue walking towards the main attraction and be sure to take the beautiful picture with the pagoda in the distance and the fountain below. Circle around and stand at the temple across from you to take the famous picture embodied in most postcards. I stood there for a good 10 minutes just soaking like a sponge (I was also drenched in my clothes, so maybe that’s why I felt like a damp towel). Some people walk down the stairs, but I continued the scenic view towards the distant pagoda. There are a few great shots across this path with the full view of all the temples and pagodas.

The fountain at the bottom level is supposed to be some sort of holy water. You wait in line and grab one of those metal ladles bombarded by UV light cleansing. Proceed to fill the cup with water and drink. I did it because everyone else was, but it didn’t taste too holy. Maybe it tasted extra holy, but it didn’t really quench my thirst or give me any type of enlightenment. It was an experience, none-the-less, and I’m glad I performed another interesting ritual.

Explore some side streets and take a look at a few other shrines. It took me approximately 5 hours to walk the little section, but I stopped often and walked at a turtle’s pace (the whole while complaining to myself under my breath). There is much more to see of Kyoto near Kingakuji, but I think it will have to wait for my tour. I left the beautiful city, but continued my next journey at 5PM. It’s a tale of excitement and intensity that deserves its own separate journal entry.

~See Lemons Immersed in Culture