25 January 2009

japan, day seven

i felt more than a little groggy and slow the next day.  yet, there were temples to be seen. 

first up was kyoto's most famous temple, Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion Temple.  just look at that gold leaf.  how tacky.  maybe gold was more acceptable back in 1397.  yes, 1397 (though it was rebuilt as recently as 1955).  pretty incredible.

at the site, there were a lot of children in school uniforms and kind, old people.  a walk through the moss-covered garden finished the trip.  

next was the Ryoan-ji, the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon, home of Kyoto's, and the world's, most famous rock garden.  after a short walk through the grounds, we sat and looked at the rocks.

and looked some more.  no bullshit, no colors, nothing in your face, nothing screaming at you.  just relax and look at the rocks.  it was fantastic.  this garden is around 600 years old.  there are fifteen boulders in the garden, placed so that you can only see fourteen at any given angle of view.  

according to legend, it is only through enlightenment that one can see the fifteenth stone.

weathered wood.

inside the main temple.  no need for furniture.

the rest of the temple was beautiful as well.  trees with red leaves, a lovely pond with flirtatious ducks, and an orchard of these dr. seuss trees.

our last best-of-kyoto stop was the Nijo Castle, a 400-year old shogun castle.  this bike has nothing to do with the castle, but everything to do with awesome.

pretty impressive.  we arrived just as they were closing the castle, and we managed to sneak in for a quick tour - no cameras allowed, of course.  which was too bad.  the rice-paper windows let in really beautiful light and the hundred-year-old wall-size paintings were incredible.  life-size statues colored in the picture in some rooms and gave me a sense of order, duty, and respect.

about half the rooms had secret rooms, closets, really, where samurai would hide and wait - for years - in case the shogun needed help.  the coolest part about the castle: the hallway where i walked.  underneath, the shogun ordered a system of bells and chimes attached to the floorboards, so that the floor chimes when it's walked upon - the nightingale floor, for defense.

unimaginable wood carving, for intimidation's sake.

what shogun's castle would be complete without koi?

in a giant moat?

the view from the castle keep.

after the long day of sightseeing, i was ready to relax, and spent the rest of the evening taking it easy in the hostel, sitting on my butt, reading more of dreams from my father.  made small talk with a few aussies, who told us some tales of our behavior the night before.

gotta make america proud.

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