Dawn at Heian Jingu

An early morning stroll through the Heian Jingu Shrine before the crowds descend for the day.
17 01 12 - 02:46 - kieren - Photostory| one comment - §

Behind the Kyoto New Miyako Hotel

The Kyoto Miyako Hotel clings to the foothills beneath Shogun-zuka, the property extending upwards until tennis courts and tea houses give way to forest and a rambling path that climbs through a bird sanctuary to a picnic area. Certainly the park has seen better days, and although it is evident hikers still use the paths, the feeling is of a hillside left to decay. This, however, is very good for wildlife, and the views from the top of the small peak are beautiful, looking across the Eastern mountains.
05 01 12 - 03:43 - kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Beside the Oi River

Scenes from a relaxing afternoon spent beside the Oi River, eating sweet dango and drinking sharp ginger sodas at the floating cafe.
09 12 11 - 09:00 - kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Journey to Monkey Mountain

I cannot count the times we have climbed the mountain behind the Togetsukyo Bridge to feed the monkeys. The park* is a ravaged stretch of ground overlooking some of the most spectacular scenery in Kyoto. A hut neatly reverses the animal-human role by putting you inside a cage where you can purchase peanuts and slices of apple to feed the monkeys that gather on the mesh windows around the building. Outside the city spreads out beneath you**, a carpet of buildings and roads that has flooded every inch of ground underneath the mountains, a flood of modernity occasionally broken by the odd shrine or park.

Neicy and Rhod went to find refreshments at the river-boat shop while Anwen and myself climbed through the scorching heat of late summer. There were no other visitors and the helpful keepers chatted about the monkeys and manipulated a few photos so it looked as if the monkeys wanted to be seated beside us. Looking down upon Arashiyama it seemed impossible that typhoons were due.

27 11 11 - 03:12 - kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Early Morning Okazaki

We woke with jetlag at 5.30am this morning and rather than waste time sleeplessly in bed took the opportunity to walk around Nanzen-ji's precinct in the cool early morning. Joggers and the odd eager businessman were the only people about and Okazaki was quite beautiful without the bustling crowds. There was no rush, no plans to keep, just aimless strolling and it was perfect.
02 11 11 - 03:27 - kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


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 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 - §


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

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