Saturday, 28 March 2009

Kyoto part V

3rd March


Loren made it to Day Two. After a leisurely morning I took the train to the tournament site to see the artists and such. The best was this table of craftsmen who made sort of 3-dimensional versions of magic cards by taking like 10 of the same cards, and doing intricate cut-outs of the features on them. I then walked to a nearby temple. I got seriously lost getting there, the sort of lost you can only get if you can't read any of the street signs. Finally found my way back to a point I could distinguish on the map using (I swear!) the position of the sun and the time of day.

3d Magic cards
3-D Magic cards

It was all worth it because the temple (or shrine?) was really lovely. It featured inari (meaning fox, not sushi) statues, and an uncountable quantity of reddish-orange gates. These simple wooden gates were set one behind the other continuously for long stretches of pathways. It was an amazing experience to walk into the brilliant orange tunnels that the gates created. These temples are not relics; they are ancient and yet they are full of life and activity. The religion is very much alive, and interactive in a way I am not accustomed to. The many shrines on the property are visited by Japanese followers, which ring a bell, toss a coin into collection boxes, and make a wish or prayer. This is just one of the activities I observed. (there were no English signs, so I did a lot of observing). Another set of activities involved paying a small fee to write your wish/prayer on a piece of paper, a strip of wood, or other objects, which are then hung up together in the appropriate location. There were also various methods for receiving a pre-written fortune. And these are just the bits that were somewhat comprehensible to me!

fox with key
Inari fox statue

shrine gates at fushimi-inari 4
Shrine Gates

I followed one path that lead through a well tended bamboo forest. I have not seen bamboo this large aside from one memorable garden on the Big Island. Eventually there was a side-path with a lot of what looked like little shrines all crowded together. Some looked well tended, others old somewhat fallen to neglect. It wasn't til I'd gotten to the second wandering path featuring similar 'shrines' that it dawned on me that I was really looking at graves. I have never seen so strange a grave-yard!

handprints on bamboo
Hand print on giant bamboo

graves at Fushimi-Inari 4
Grave at Fushimi-Inari

graves at Fushimi-Inari 2
Another strange grave at Fushimi-Inari

grave and cobweb
Spider web on grave stones


d said...

Lovely pictures! I like the several parts of your a story unfolding (can't wait to see what happens next!).

P.S. They have similarly huge bamboo in Disney World. :)

Heather said...

Thanks, really it's good to know. I was starting to worry that readers of my blog were getting bored of reading about Kyoto.