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Japan Travel

THE TEMPLES OF KYOTO

In Kyoto everything is very well taken care of. After fulfilling my ritual of acquiring a map of the city, which was free and there were indications of temples and bus and subway lines, I set out to walk. It was difficult to choose which temples to visit and pay for admission, and it was a rush around the city. I have put together a list below of the temples I was able to visit that day:

•            Kinkaku-Ji (the “Golden Temple”): Buddhist temple originally built in 1397 by Shogun Yoshimitsu, is all gold foliage, considered one of the most beautiful in Japan. In Itapecerica da Serra (São Paulo) has a replica that had already visited, which is why I was not very impressed.

•            Heian-jingu: shinto temple is also very beautiful, built in 1895 AD in commemoration of the thousandth anniversary of the founding of Kyoto.

•            Kiyomizu-dera: A Buddhist temple dating from 798 AD, with its typical streets and stalls selling souvenirs and other little things, very beautiful. Crowded with local tourists and some foreigners.

•            Gion: is the Geisha district, full of temples, shops and typical restaurants.

•            Fushimi-Inari: It’s a complex with five Shinto temples being also a maze! It has 30,000 toriis, which are those portals, of all sizes. The movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” was shot in part here.

In the late afternoon I went to Inari, as recommended by Teru. It was really something quite different. I walked mount Inari up among the “toriis”, I was lost up there, without signs and almost without anyone walking, I went into despair, because it was getting dark. I found my way back after finding a gentleman running and pausing to pray, although he didn’t speak English, he indicated the way. I ended up barely taking pictures. Inari is a deity of fertility, business, agriculture, rice and sake (a Japanese strong alcohol drink made from fermented rice).

Categories
Japan Travel

DRAGONFLIES AND GEISHA

In the morning, we all went out for a walk. We walked to a place with a suspension bridge, over a cliff and a river, similar to Capilano’s Bridge in Vancouver. On the bridge there were dozens of black dragonflies. I don’t remember every seeing so many at once before! In cities like São Paulo, it is simply impossible to see even one. Then we went to the “koen” (park) of Nara, in another city, listed by UNESCO and very well cared for, with over 1200 sika deer (シカ or 鹿 shika) and several temples. Nara was the capital of Japan before being transferred to Kyoto, located in Nara Province with 370,000 inhabitants.

In the afternoon, we went to another neighboring city, the beautiful Kyoto further west, capital of the province of the same name, known as the city of temples. It has more than two thousand temples, in addition to twenty-four museums, thirty-seven universities, gardens, castles and palaces. It was one of the capitals of Japan for over a thousand years, from 794 A.D. to 1868 AD before being transferred to Tokyo. Population of 1.5 million inhabitants.

As we arrived after four in the afternoon, the castle and the palace were closed. In addition to visiting the palace it is necessary to make a reservation in advance. But it was worth the tour through the outside area, by the beautiful and well-kept garden.

We strolled through the central region and Pontocho Street, a region that bordered the river, with its restaurants with balconies and shops full of Japanese passers-by. There were some girls dressed in kimono for the tourists to photograph, but I didn’t get to see any geisha. Geishas are not prostitutes, the literal translation is an artist, they are women specializing in the art of dance, singing and seduction, although some prostitutes dress like geisha.

Nara and Kyoto are two nice cities and less bustling than Tokyo and Osaka. Both followed the Chinese geomancy model of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang An (present-day Xian).

Japanese in typical costumes.