Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Kyoto ... where was the Japan of my dreams?

Posted by Hippo Bean at 8:06 PM
The Nijo castle (Nijo-jo) was everything I've dreamed of Japan to be. Exactly like what I saw on TV and movies about ancient Japan. Built in 1603 by the first Tokugawa Shogun Ieyasu in the Momoyama architecture, this castle offered a tour of the inside of the buildings, where we could admire every room. It is just like what we've seen in the Japanese movies. Sliding wooden doors with paper, matted floors, pictures of tigers and leopards on the walls, Tokugawa crests in gold on every door. I liked it very much indeed. The wooden floor on the hallway around the building squeaked when we walked on it. This was accomplished by having cramps under the floor that moved up and down with pressure on them, creating a friction between the nails and cramps. This was done purposely so that the Shogun wouldnt be surprised by anyone approaching. Great technique. Because of the bird-like sound, it was named the Nightingale Floor. The main building has gilded ornaments on the facade.

Nijo castle


This would probably be the highlight of the entire trip.

Next a brief visit to the Golden Pavilion, the Kinkakuji temple.

Kinkakuji


The main building the Kinkaku was originally built to be a villa for the 3rd Shogun of Ashikaga, Yoshimitsu. After his death, according to his will, the villa was converted into a Zen temple. The original coating of Japanese lacquer was replaced with a new coat of gilding with gold-leaf. It's indeed very beautiful.

Our next stop was the Imperial Palace

Ogakumonjo



where we had to filled out a form, disclosing our age and shoe size, lined up 4X4 and marched into the precinct. By then it was noon heat and the place offered no shade. We couldnt go inside the buildings so we just walked around in the courtyards. I was ready to pass out in this heat. I didnt think I saw anything there. All I wanted was to get back to the air conditioned bus.

In the afternoon we drove to nearby Nara to see the enormous Buddha in the Todaiji Temple

Todaiji


inside the 'Deer' park, where pathetic 'unbashfull' deers roamed around and mingled with Homo Sapients, nagging for 'deer cookies'. None of them were as sweet as Bambi.

Bambi


They told us these deers like to eat paper so be mindful to close the restroom doors lest they come in and lunch on the toilet paper, used or otherwise!

Last stop before retiring to the much needed hotel bed was the colorful Kasuga Shrine with 3000 stone lanterns.

Kasuga


The main shrine building was covered in Asian vermilion (what else!) and it's indeed much more pleasing to the eyes than the otherwise dull and dark temples.

After another very humid and hot day, I was so ready to escape back to our tiny but comfortably ac'd hotel room, with a view of the Kyoto station, where every 3 minutes a shinkansen would greet me.

Where were the sentimental, nostalgic, romantic Japanese alleys of my dreams?

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