Wednesday, November 26

Aki no Kyoto: Kitano Tenmangu and Daikakuji

Views from the Chuo

Pleased with the results of my Spring book, I was super excited to get back to Kyoto this fall for some Momiji-viewing.

I love where I live.
Resting rice fields line the valley.

Kyoto Tower
In front of Kyoto Station

I arrived on Saturday morning and was met at the station by my old pen pal, Yasuko, and her sister, Sachiko. After dropping off my stuff, our first stop was Kitano Tenmangu, a shrine in Northwest Kyoto. Some hot kitsune udon was in order before any sightseeing was to be done, and then it was on to momiji-land.

Momiji-colored kimono
At Kitano Tenmangu

Bright red nanten (Nandina) berries liven up a stone lantern at Tenmangu.
These berries are often used in the New Year's kadomatsu.

The approach to Tenmangu.

The avenue leading up to Tenmangu is lined with resting cows. Sorry I didn't get any pictures... there was one interesting one, but somebody was being a jama...


Fortunately for me, mid-November is Shichigosan time, a holiday where parents celebrate their children turning 7, 5 or 3 (Hence the name, shichi-go-san). There were several families visiting Tenmangu so that the children could be blessed by the priests.

Shichigosan is a holiday for both boys and girls, and it is customary for the children to dress up, often in rented kimono. However, most of the kids I saw were girls, and all the boys I saw wore those cute little-boy suits with the shorts.

Yasuko and Sachiko say a quick prayer.

Entrance ticket to Momiji-en at Kitano Tenmangu.
With ocha-tsuki.

Just outside Tenmangu is the entrance to Momiji-en, a new little "park" for viewing momiji, Japanese maple. This past weekend the momiji were only just beginning, with little teasing splashes of color among the green. I imagine that in another week or two the city will be ablaze with reds and oranges, and parks like this will be magnificent.

The roof of Kitano Tenmangu from the Momiji-en.

Free Tea

The end of the Momiji-en trail brings you to the free tea, in a typical outdoor tea area. Only this time the bench cloths were blue instead of the fiery red. Our ticket got us a delicious pancake-type okashi, filled with something delicious with a white miso base, and all the hojicha we could drink.

Ever helpful and willing to make friends, Joseph gives this Kewpie a hand in attracting customers to her okonomiyaki shop.

After a very long hiatus, Joseph managed to drag himself out of the closet and come to Kyoto with me. Of course, he made some friends there, including this Kewpie. She (?) was something of a street kid, working in front of an okonomiyaki restaurant for what I can only assume is a pittance. I do have to give her credit for the courage it must take to be out there with those eyebrows.

It's not even Thanksgiving yet, but the Colonel - I mean, Santa - is already out hawking his wares. Jo and I were sure to give him a proper hello.

Taking Tickets

From Tenmangu we boarded a train - and then another train - to Arashiyama to see Daikakuji. Well, I didn't know that's why we were going there, but my two conspiring tour-guides did.

So Many People

Once we got to Arashiyama, we had to fight the holiday crowds just to get on a bus up to Daikakuji. Yikes.

A little priest welcomes customers Kyoto-style.

Entering Daikakuji

Once a detached palace belonging to Emperor Saga, in the late 9th century Daikakuji was turned into a temple by his daughter after his death.

Their name a tribute to Emperor Saga, Saga Chrysanthemums are displayed every November at Daikakuji

In the Shinden. Momoyama Period. School of Kano

And the Real Deal
Japanese pine trees are so dreamy.

Painted in the Edo Period by Watanabe Shiko. In Shoshinden

Heian Era Lady

A cute little old lady takes in the garden next to Murasame no Rouka (Corridor of the Passing Shower), part of the Shinden.

All passages, including the Murasame no Rouka, feature Uguisu-bari floors, an old security measure that today adds a deliciously musical touch.



As Daikakuji dates back to the Heian Era, there are sometimes folks dressed in period clothing wandering about the grounds. This lady is modeling the multi-layered Juni-hito style of kimono typical of nobility at that time.

Obo-san no geta.
Sandals for the priests. And then some.

A small outbuilding reflected in Osawa-no-ike.

Leaving by the back door.

At the end of the day, we still had one more stop at Daimaru for fixin's for dinner and breakfast. Sachiko made a delicious little dinner - it seemed like a lot, but I was hungry within a couple hours. But I guess that's better than going to bed full. By the time I hit the hay I was pooped and slept like a baby.

Next up: Uji and Byodoin.


Blogger Arazaree said...

Your narratives crack me up. I love the eyebrows on the cupie doll! :o) I love your blog, Abbey. It's so much fun to experience another culture through you!

12:41 AM

Blogger Abbey said...

Thanks, Racheal! It's so nice to know that someone enjoys reading it. This country is full of so many interesting things to share!

6:29 AM


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