Kyoto is now officially one of my favourite places on the planet. The weather has been nigh on perfect for my time here and it has been truly splendid seeing the city.
The highlight of the trip – just perhaps one of the highlights of all my travelling – was renting a bike and riding around in the winter sunshine on a rented bike with my Cambridge University scarf waving behind me. I had a smile on my face for the entire day, popping from temple to temple, putting my head round the door of a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and cutting up taxis riding just like a student so late for their morning lecture there is simply no point rushing any more.
It would be very easy to overdo the temple thing here. They form the city’s major industry and have done for the last thousand years. I think I have done a reasonable job mixing it up though, making sure I also include some gardens, pagodas, food and stopping to ponder the immense complexity of this society – at once immediately accessible and frustratingly impenetrable; espacially here in Kyoto.
I suppose the feeling I have of this place is of awe, but in a similar way to the secretive halls and passages of Cambridge University, even if I was Japanese I would have difficulty breaking more than the most superficial of surfaces – let alone understanding the place.
I’ll have one more day to soak, then I will have to the even more historical capital of Nara and then on to Tokyo for a weekend of eating, shopping and drinking with Kaoru. Should be a blast, and a nice contrast to the hostel + ‘cultcha’ of this place.
Ridiculously beautiful and endlessly layered, this place is beguiling.
Sanjusangen-do. This temple had 1001 human-sized standing buddas standing inside. Each budda sported 40 arms. Each of those arms are able to protect 25 universes from evil. In turn, each can save 25. So, this insurance policy – an insurance policy that took 100 years to build – can protect a total of 30,033 worlds from destruction, and save mankind. Seems… a touch… excessive.
Kiyomizu-Dera – UNESCO World Heritage Site
The weather was simply perfect
Pagodas in the mist
What more to say? I played for a while with B&W;
Views over Kyoto
Happy Budda at the love temple – I would be too, surrounded by such beauty
Hon-do – rather an arresting site in the gorge
Even lamps in the cafe got my pulse racing!
Everything – everything – seems to be considered and nicely executed, with little design solutions everywhere you turn
Yeah, so my new camera has depth of field – you guys have guessed. Again, not Sakura!
The roofs just blew me away every time
Heian-Jingu is a rather large and gaudy temple – or shrine, I always get them mixed up – in a very Chinese style
Fortunes tied to trees
Ginkaku-Ji, or the Silver Pavilion, is another UNESCO site. Very nice, but with a pretty ugly Zen garden (in my opinion) and rather too many chattering tourists
Make a wish
Tools of the trade on show at Ryoan-Ji. But he messed up all the raking!
Icy cold sunshine
Is this just the nicest row of buckets you have ever seen?!
A very pleasant lunch while looking out across an immaculately manicured garden
Hello … or rather Konichiwa
At the Imperial Palace … much more well preserved than the other places. But with an organised tour, lots of camera toting tourists and a slightly hygienic feel, I think other locations were better
Yeah sorry! Sakura? No.
A lovely garden… but I have begun to realise that while Japanese gardens seem to be made for looking at, Western gardens are for sitting in. If I sat down I am sure a necromancer or irate gardener would shoo me away!
The English chap I hung around with for a couple of days; a hip hopper from Oxford