kyoto: 11:57 p.m. friday may 26
utah: 8:57 a.m. friday may 26
today's activities would all depend on the weather:
sunny weather, we go to kiyomizu temple.
drizzles, we go to ginkaku-ji, the silver pavilion.
it was drizzles, the perfect environment to see the temple, because that heightens the aesthetics around which it was designed. built on the thought of finding beauty in the simple and sad, the grey sky and quiet rain act as a sensual 'surround sound' to the artfully subdued grounds.
standing at a quiet two stories, ginkaku-ji's main villa is of dark brown wood and white rice paper doors. in front spreads a pond of koi, silently swimming as trees stretch forth in classical asian fashion. a hall of worship provides a bookend to one corner of the area, and also provides a platform for moon viewing.
since the moon was not available, i used it to photograph people enjoying their history's culture, including three tough looking biker guys, who, like most tough-looking japanese guys, were quite friendly and sincere, and four lovely ladies in kimonos, who impressed even the throngs of high school girls.
betwixt the temple hall and the villa is a finely raked rock garden and shape that looks like the bottom third of a cone. as i write, i realize i really don't know what it's made of; it stands about 4' tall and looks like it's made from the gravel of the rock garden. its purpose is to cast shadows during moon viewing.
ginkaku-ji is perhaps my favorite sight in kyoto. avoiding any sort of sensationalism, it's artistry and elegance come from patience. the longer you spend there, whether sitting by the temple hall or strolling through the gardens, the more delicate beauty you find. i could spend all day there.
kyoto is, in fact, much the same way.
there are major cities all over the world, each unique and alive, and all have people in love with the metropolis.
for me, that city is kyoto.
thriving in the modern age with a populace of 1.2 million people, history and old japan is more intricately interwoven here than anywhere else in the country. to know kyoto's history is to know japan's history, with traces of the heian period [1100 a.d.] still very visible.
we wandered through the major downtown streets, where high-rise buildings stand over traditional shops and paper lanterns lining the way. we turned down another unsuspecting avenue, where bamboo walls and wooden doors were all that was to be seen on the cobblestone streets.
twice, we saw a white-faced maiko gracefully scurrying from one establishment to another. like a glimpse of a fox in the woods, she was a fleeting vestige of old kyoto. some of the doors we passed advertised their menus, traditional meals costing over $100 for small but delicate dishes. yet others presented nothing. they were tea houses or sushi restaurants in which clientel are by invitation only. this is gion, once the great entertainment center, where geisha entertained with such legendary skill that we make movies about them today.
to walk through downtown kyoto from twilight to the neon nightlife was one of my favorite events of our trip.
to just be in kyoto.
now, karaoke bars and pachinko parlors offer entertainment just as gion did centuries before. there are no memoirs of the geisha here, just callers dressed deceptively formal outside of naught places.
i suppose i am on my own personal 'cruise' when i'm in kyoto. i was loving just being there, and could have walked the streets all night.
the rest of the family, however, thought kyoto was nice, but was getting a little tired of walking. for becky, travel to another country isn't that fun if she is not building a house or saving the world in some other way. plus, she was getting rather annoyed with a technologically advanced first-world nation who seemingly did not appreciate the research regarding the dangers of tobacco. that, and us getting lost in finding the subway wasn't helping either.
the takaragaike prince hotel of northern kyoto was not quite the same as the tokyo conrad. situated just outside of the bustling city, it is a rather popular spot for the business class, as the odd-looking kyoto international conference hall is right next door. the staff was friendly and spoke english well-enough that, when i didn't feel like speaking japanese, we could get along fine. and i'm sure that 20 years ago it was a beautiful place.
but it has since then fallen into disrepair. no bugs or anything horrendous like that [and you do not want to have a japanese centipede in your dwellings, let me tell you], but the carpets were discolored, the wallpaper was coming undone at the seams, and other such small things. still, these were some of the biggest rooms in all of kyoto. dad and tim were totally cool with it, but i felt a little bad for becky and mom.
in a cheerful hyperbole, becky compared it to the 'happiness hotel.'
the bellhops all looked cute in their uniforms.