Thursday, April 3

Kyoto for Hanami: Vol. 1

Entrance to a small shrine at the Imperial Palace.

Not that my first two trips to Kyoto weren't fun and exciting, but in spite of Melissa's dreamy-eyed proclamations of love for the old capital, I was still never quite convinced of its appeal. Yes, it's the old capital of Japan. Yes, it has neat old sections that can't be found in other cities. Yes, it has the country's awesomest geisha district. But still and all...

Until this week. Wow. I can't even begin to get into the kandou that I felt over the last few days. After having been able to spend four long days in Kyoto, I have finally realized how special it really is.

Yasuko, Joseph, Sachiko and I under a weeping cherry at the Imperial Palace.

In front of the three colors of blossom: the white of cherry, soft pink of peach and the "passion pink" of plum.

It's not a huge booming metropolis. It's not all lit up with fancy signs and giant television screens. You probably won't see Lamborghinis or world-famous celebrities roaming trendy neighborhoods. But it has something else. It has a gentle, peaceful side. There are tourists, yes, an abundance, but even so, you can still feel what is Japan, what was the Japan of before. The Japan before the tourists came, before the converters and the capitalists. Beneath the eye of the camera lenses, lies the essence of Japan, its history and its culture.

At the Imperial Palace, Melissa shows off her clever solution to having to take pictures with an umbrella.

Perhaps this trip came at a good time for me. I've got about 100 pages left in Shogun, by James Clavell, and in spite of the gratuitous love interest the story is a real page-turner. The amount of Japanese historical culture I've learned and been able to recognize is amazing. And after reading it, aspects of modern culture that I experience stand out even more.

Under a shower of weeping cherry.
Thanks, Melissa!

A weeping cherry tree mirrors the umbrellas of its admirers.

This cherry tree at the Imperial Palace wrapped itself around a pine tree as it grew, ultimately strangling the pine. The pine tree is obviously no longer there, but the cherry maintains its flat, helical shape. Inside the base is a pile of pine cones, as if to prove that a pine tree truly stood there at one time.

Heading to the bus from the Imperial Palace to the Philosopher's Path.

For dousing fires.
Five buckets of water.

Anyhoo... I'll stop my disjointed musing, and try to let the pictures communicate the kind of visit I had in Kyoto this week.

Along the Philosopher's Path in Higashiyama.
Yasuko explained that the Japanese appreciate the combination of pink and yellow as spring colors.
Thanks again, Melissa!

Sachiko, Yasuko, Joseph and I at the start to the Philosopher's Path in Higashiyama.
The path leads to Ginkakuji Shrine, currently under renovation.

Dango and Dances Gion

Wrapping up our day was a trip to Gion. Gion in the evening, Gion in the afternoon and Gion in the morning are three separate things. Busy with dance preparations, on Sunday night, the geiko or maiko were nowhere to be seen, except in these posters that were hung about the neighborhood, advertising the upcoming spring dances. Even the trademark lanterns with the Gion "Danguitos" marked the Miyako Odori starting on April 1st.

Abbe, The RZA...
At the door of a restaurant in Gion.

In front of Tatsumibashi

Patrons enjoy dinner and hanami at a restaurant overlooking the Shirakawa River in Gion.


Anonymous robin said...

I love the Shogun series! And you have great photos. When my Mom and I spent two days in Kyoto, it rained steadily. :(

11:44 PM


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