For one brief moment before Chion-in's grand gate I understood why people saw the Buddhist gods descend in purple clouds to scatter divine omens. Nature is awesome, and just this one moment perfectly explains to me why my heart will always be split in two...one half in my home country and the other in this most frustrating, beautiful, cluttered and peerless city.

26 10 11 - 07:40 - kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


Very close to the Westin Miyako, where we happened to be staying, is the pretty Awata Shrine. Overlooking the Okazaki Park with its museums, parks and the Heian Jingu Shrine, the modest shrine is perhaps most famed for its colourful lantern festival held in October (similar to that of the Aomori Nebuta). On our visit the grounds were completely empty, but a few of the old lanterns were still on display including a depiction of a Genji warrior and the god Ebisu...our timing was fortunate as the very next day the lanterns were shipped off for some loving care prior to the festival.

Awata Shrine takes its name from the clan that lived in this area long before the capital was transferred to Kyoto in 794. The neighbourhood found itself at the Eastern entrance to the new imperial city and was thus renamed Awataguchi* (guchi/kuchi meaning 'mouth' in Japanese), gaining prominence as it sat on the Tokaido Highway between Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). Due to its strategic importance Awataguchi became busier and more prosperous, great numbers of travelers and commodities coming through during the Edo Period (1603-1868).

From the end of the Heian Period (794-1192) swordsmiths had studios in the neighbourhood, among whom the most famous was Sanjo-Kokaji-Munechika, noted for a legend in which he successfully made a masterpiece sword named 'Kogitsune-maru' by getting a small fox (a 'kogitsune') disguised as a small boy to assist him. Later in the Edo Period the area became famous for producing 'Awatayaki' pottery, the ceramic techniques introduced from Seto, Nagoya.

Although not terribly famous nowadays (drowning amongst the dozens of larger, more famous temples and shrines about it) Awata Shrine is a quiet and beautiful retreat and well worth a visit.

*Awataguchi stretches from East of the Shirakawa Bridge (Sanjo Street) to the vicinity of Keage. As Sanjo Bridge was the official starting point of the Tokaido Highway, it was of great importance.
26 10 11 - 07:08 - kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


The wonderful thing about having visited many of Kyoto's most famous temple and shrines is that I feel I can take my time when going to see them for a second time. I have fond memories of Tenjuan-ji, visiting the small garden a few years ago with Nishida-sensei at the height of autumn colours. Back then it was bursting with people, but today we had the place to ourselves. The perfect way to begin our holiday.

The Tenjuan sub-temple, though open to the public, is only open in the spring and autumn. The sub-temple was founded in the late 14th century by Kokan Shiren in honor of Priest Fumon, the founder of Nanzen-ji. Much like the other buildings here this temple was leveled in the Onin Wars and was not rebuilt until 1602 by Hosokawa Yusai. The Hondo, Shoin and Main Gate of Tenjuan that were rebuilt in 1602 are all still standing today.

Within the Hondo is a wooden statue of Fumon, a self portrait of Fumon, several painted fusumas with landscapes and the like, and portraits of Hosokawa and his wife. On the sub-temple's grounds is a small cemetery with Hosokawa Yusai and a few well known figures of the Meiji area.
16 10 11 - 02:40 - kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Kyoto Reboot

It has taken us far longer to get back to Japan than we would have liked, but as it turns out starting a business is not the easiest thing to do. After a year and a half of setting up home, launching Dakko Dakko and releasing our first game (The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character) we finally headed back to Kyoto to see friends and eat ourselves senseless...all with Rhod's grandmother (86 years old!) in tow.
12 10 11 - 06:48 - kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.


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