Photos of Kyoto
 
When you first arrive in Kyoto, it is very difficult not to be impressed with its modern and extremely imposing train station. Despite what you might think, it's very easy to navigate around inside this monstrosity. Trains on the bottom, eateries on the top level. The topl level has a platform where all types of special events are held. In the two photos below, one of the shrines of Gion Matsuri is on display and a dance is performed in its honor.

The next few photos are from a temple called Eikan-do, or Honen-in. The temple has some pleasant gardents and an interesting story is told about its central image of worship.


The main area of the temple is surrounded by walkways through a garden, in traditional Japanese fashion.

There are two stories that circulate about this statue. Both maintain that at one time the buddha looked straight forward. The first story tells of a young monk who was jiving or dancing and suddenly became self conscious when he thought he was being watched. He stopped, and the statue turned around and told him to keep jiving. The second story tells of another young monk who was being lax with his meditation practice. As he was dozing off to sleep, the statue turned around and chastized him for not having focus. At any rate, thereafter the statue's head stayed turned, and the temple had an honored artifact.

This next temple's name I can't remember, but it was terrific! Some great pagodas, temple grounds, and rock gardens. When you visit a temple, it's hard to remember that there are so many of them in Kyoto,. They may have similar features, but each has their own individual character.

Gold foil covered screen doors


The temple from across the garden pond
The nearby aqueduct with some friends

These next few photos were taken the day before the finale of Gion Matsuri. For three days prior to the 16th of August, people walked through the streets during the evening. Traffic is stopped and stalls line the streets vending all sorts of food and gimmicks. Large floats are on every street in the district. Many people are dressed in light summer kimonos, called yukata.

Little girls in yukata sing their wares of rice stalks. Each is a blessing and protection against evil if hung up in the home. If you buy one, it's your ticket to go up into one of the tall shrines and listen to traditional music being played there.

The shrines were all very large and had different themes. Lanterns strung down the front and back of most of them. The shrines are hard to get to because the streets are just swarming with people. This festival turns the charming city of Kyoto into a real zoo!

 

There I am atop one of the shrines! I had my ticket of rice stalk blessings and made my way up the steps. There was a small band of musicians and a priest in the top of the shrine.



Here's my friend Makiko who served as my guide
through the crowded streets of Gion!

A few miscellaneous pics of Kyoto on this page. This one is of the magnificent Chion-in Temple. It was built on the site where Honen, the founder of the Jodo school of Buddhism, taught and eventually fasted to death.



The charming streets of the Gion district. Sometimes a geisha can be seen in the area on her way to or from an appointment.


Kyoto Tower

And this last picture was taken just before the famous Daimon-ji Gozan Okuribi festival. Do you see the multitudes of people sitting on the banks behind us? Everyone gathers on the banks of the Kamogawa River (and any other part of the city where they can see the mountains) and waits until 8 pm. Then enormous fires in the form of Chinese characters are lit on the mountainsides. The festival is performed to bid farewell to the souls of ancestors.

 

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