Kyoto Journals

Kyoto in Seventeen Syllables

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A May 2005 trip to Kyoto by Idler

Temple Lanterns, Yasaka Shrine Photo, Kyoto, Japan More Photos
Quote: A haiku exploration of Japan's most atmospheric city.

Kyoto in Seventeen Syllables

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Overview

Temple Lanterns, Yasaka Shrine Photo, Kyoto, Japan
Quote:
Kyoto, it is said, embodies the spirit of Japan. Certainly, it is acclaimed as having the richest heritage. The statistics alone are impressive: almost two thousand Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, twenty percent of Japan’s official National Treasures, and seventeen UNESCO World Heritage sites. It boggles the mind. How can a visitor deal with such cultural largesse? I would say: by reducing it to its poetic essence. In the span of seventeen syllables, a haiku poem expresses the inexpressible. More than mere words, haiku is a way of experiencing the world: openly, attentively, receptively. It encourages us to pay attention, to make unorthodox connections, and to tolerate the...Read More
Rakushisha - The hut of the fallen persimmons Photo, Kyoto, Japan
Quote:
In my hut this spring, There is nothing – There is everything! Yamaguchi Sodō (1642-1716)In Saga, a northwestern suburb of Kyoto, haiku enthusiasts make pilgrimages to Rakushisha, "The Hut of the Fallen Persimmons." This unpretentious thatched hut was the home of Mukai Kyorai (1651-1704), one of ten disciples of Matsuo Bashō, the legendary poet. While Kyorai’s original cottage fell into ruin after his death, devotees of Bashō reconstructed the cottage, and it is this modest dwelling that one can visit today. During Bashō’s day, Arashiyama was a remote mountainside area of pastoral charm. The haiku master visited Kyorai’s cot...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 5, 2007

Rakushisha - The hut of the fallen persimmons
20 Hinomyojin-cho Ogurayama
Kyoto, Japan
+81 (75) 881-1953

Ryōan-ji - Garden stones

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Attraction | "Ryōan-ji - Garden stones"

Ryōan-ji  - Garden stones Photo, Kyoto, Japan
Quote:
One of the most celebrated sights in Kyoto is confined to an area of a mere 30 x 78 feet. It consists of 15 rocks, white gravel, and some bits of moss. I am speaking, of course, of the famous 15th century karesansui (dry landscape garden) at Ryōan-ji, the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon.Harold Stewart, in his book of seasonal poems and essays, By the Walls of Old Kyoto, devotes 32 densely written pages to a discussion of "The Metaphysics of the Stone Garden of Ryōan-ji," expounding at length upon the different interpretations of the famous garden and its spiritual significance. These include (but are not limited to) the stones representing islands and the raked pebbles wave...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 6, 2007

Ryōan-ji - Garden stones
13 Goryonoshita-cho Ryoanji Ukyo-ku , Kyoto , 616-
Kyoto

Fushimi Inari -- Spring rain

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Story/Tip

Fushimi Inari Photo, Kyoto, Japan
Quote:
Little shrine with rice cakes, of course... spring rain Kobayashi Issa, 1818In the Shinto religion, powerful spirits or kami abide in a multitude of natural objects such as mountains, waterfalls, and even exceptional people. There are innumerable kami, but the most important have shrines devoted to them, where people pay their respects and make offerings. One such kami is Inari, the deity of the rice harvest and (by extension) success and prosperity. As you can imagine, Inari is quite a popular figure, and about a third of Shinto shrines are devoted to him/her. (I equivocate as Inari is regarded as both male and female.) ...Read More

Gio-ji

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Story/Tip

Cat and Peony Blossom Photo,
Quote:
Often when I return from a journey, it’s not the well-known places or famous sights that I recall most vividly, but some little-known spot that I came across quite by chance. And so it is with Gio-ji. I hadn’t planned to go there, but perhaps, reflecting back, it was simply meant to be.In Sagano, a western district of Kyoto, there is a much-celebrated bamboo forest, and it was while exploring this that I came across Gio-ji. I was instantly enchanted by the setting. A path led to a simple thatched temple set in a lush garden of moss, ferns, and slender trees. By this time, I’d seen at least a dozen elaborate temples and shrines in Kyoto, and truth to tell, I’d become a bit jaded, but someth...Read More

Adashino Nembutsu-ji -

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Story/Tip

Adashino Nembutsuji  Photo, Kyoto, Japan
Quote:
Late one afternoon I make my away to Adashino Nembutsu-ji, the famous temple and cemetery on the outskirts of Kyoto. Along the way I ponder just what draws me to these places beyond mere historical and architectural interest. Is it the sheer novelty of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, or is there some underlying principle that I find appealing? The key, I think, is rooted in mono no aware, a sensibility that is uniquely Japanese. Without going into a prolonged discourse, the simplest definition would be a keen appreciation of the vulnerability of life and the transitory nature of all things, yet at the same time a pleasurable sadness that arises from cherishing brief moments...Read More

Hirota Guest House

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Hotel | "Hirota's Guesthouse"

Hirota Guest House Photo, Kyoto, Japan
Quote:
I had dreamt of staying in a traditional ryokan in Kyoto, those legendary refined inns, but when researching them I was horrified at the prices quoted. I set my sights instead on the "next best thing," namely a minshuku, the Japanese equivalent of a bed and breakfast. Similar to a ryokan, though not as upscale, guests at a minshuku stay in a Japanese-style room with tatami matting and a futon to sleep on. The appeal of Hirota’s was its central location, reasonable price, and above all its proprietor, Mrs. Hirota, a former interpreter who speaks perfect English. Upon my arrival I was greeted by Hirota-san, who ushered me into a lovely downstairs room and serv...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 9, 2007

Hirota Guest House
665 Seimei-cho
Kyoto, Japan
075/221-2474

Seiginin

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Restaurant

Kyoyo-chi (mirror-shaped pond) at Ryoan-ji Photo, Kyoto, Japan
Quote:
Laying down chopsticks enough I’m grateful. Santoka (1882-1940)Kyoto is famed for its delicate cuisine (ryori), particularly the sophisticated kaiseki cuisine that evolved from the formal Japanese tea ceremony. Unfortunately, true kaiseki ryori is horrendously expensive, but there is a way to experience something similar, and that is to seek out the vegetarian food eaten by Buddhist monks in Kyoto’s Zen temples—the very cuisine that gave rise to the elaborate kaiseki ritual. This type of fare, shojin ryori, is simpler, but is prepared with great care, using only fresh seasonal vegetables. It was a little past 1...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 5, 2007