Wednesday, September 7, 2011

JICA FRIENDSHIP PROGRAM SCIENCE STUDENTS 1987: PART 9: KYOTO

Now we are on our way to Kyoto via Shinkansen!
As was mentioned, this type of Shinkansen had already retired and is in one of the train museums in the UK.
The Shinkansen ride was very comfortable and I found it interesting to walk back and forth in the Shinkansen. Maybe, I was trying to experiment if the speed of the bullet train would affect my walking around, but I remember I could still walk comfortably inside the train. 
The views from the train window were awesome and we got to see little towns and big cities along the way.
in the Shinkansen...so comfortable!

This is how one of the oldest models of the Shinkansen looks from the inside...It was interesting to walk around the Shinkansen, which I remember I often did. 
We again the rode the Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Kyoto with a stop-over in Osaka.


Finally, we arrived in Kyoto
We were booked at the Kyoto Dai-ni Tower Hotel, which is just in front of the JR Kyoto Station and very conveniently located. 
Kyoto Dai-ni Tower Hotel

We were in Kyoto for two days so as soon as we arrived, we were on our way to visit several heritage sites, especially, several temples, shrines, castles and showcases of culture such as the kimono makers and the Gion Corner for the different traditional arts, ceremonies and traditions.

These are the places we visited:
NIJO CASTLE
From Wikipedia: Nijō Castle (二条城 Nijō-jō?) is a flatland castle located in KyotoJapan. The castle consists of two concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various support buildings and several gardens. The surface area of the castle is 275,000 square meters, of which 8000 square meters is occupied by buildings.
This is another castle we visited. It had a sprawling type of positioning of the buildings. There were also gardens in this castle.





NISHIJIN TEXTILE CENTER
From Wikipedia: Nishijin (西陣?) is a traditional textile produced in Kamigyō-kuKyotoJapan.

Nishijin weaving was created in Kyoto over 1200 years ago by using many different types of colored yarns and weaving them together into decorative designs. These specialized procedures are tedious, but necessary to obtain the spectacular design needed to ensure the quality of Nishijin weaving.
According to Kyoto City Web at the turn of the 8th century, in 794, Kyoto, also known as "Heian-kyo" was introduced as the capital of Japan. (Kyoto City Web, 2004) Soon after the productivity of the Nishijin increased. This increased productivity was brought on in order to provide the Imperial court and aristocracy with the materials they needed. However, the need for the materials began to decrease causing these skilled weavers to go into business on their own rather than work for the textile offices.
By 1898 the Nishijin Textile trade was developed and encompassed the technology shared by the Europeans. This marked a beginning of a new era of Nishijin weaving and implemented the use of machinery in the Japanese trade. Nishijin has continued to be a successful textile industry throughout the years. Today Nishijin weaving is seen more frequently in Japanese ceremonies. The main ceremony to view this unique trade would be in a Japanese wedding. 


Visiting the Nishijin Textile Center was very enlightening. I realized there were so many types of kimonos and the fabrics were fabulous. I also found out the kimonos were very expensive! I am glad the Otomo family gave me this as a gift! 

we watched a KIMONO fashion show
GION CORNER
From: http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/en/theme/amusement/downtown/gion_corner/
Gion Corner, a unique theater which presents 1-hour shows of seven traditional performing arts of Kyoto, including the heart of Kyogen classical comedy, Kyomai dance, Gagaku Imperial Court music, koto (Japanese harp) , flower arrangement, and Tea ceremony. And since explanations are given in English, it is popular among foreign tourists. 
Visitors come to Gion Corner for an overview of Japanese culture. In Gion Corner, we are exposed to the different arts and ceremonies that Japan is known for.




Ikebana - flower arrangement






RYOANJI TEMPLE
From Wikipedia: Ryōan-ji (Shinjitai: 竜安寺, Kyūjitai: 龍安寺?, The Temple of the Dragon at Peace) is a Zen temple located in northwest KyotoJapan. Belonging to the Myoshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism, the temple and karesansui garden is one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The core of the Ryoanji Temple that I remember is the Rock Garden and a good example of Zen type of garden.




HEIAN SHRINE
From Wikipedia: The Heian Shrine (平安神宮 Heian jingū?) is a Shinto shrine located in KyotoJapan.[1] The torii before the main gate is one of the largest in Japan. The architecture of the main building (社殿 shaden?) mirrors the stylge and features of the Kyoto Imperial Palace.[2]
The Heian Shrine also has a character in itself, with the vermilion color and the wide spaces.





KIYOMIZU TEMPLE
From Wikipedia: Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺?), officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera (音羽山清水寺?) is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of theHistoric Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site.[1] 

Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period.[2] The temple dates back to 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, during a restoration ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu.[3] There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.[4][5]
The Kiyomizu Temple is very huge and multi-level and had its own distinct architecture, especially the large balcony. We had lots to see in this temple. 

We also talked to other visitors like an Australian tourist and Japanese and Korean- Japanese students. I wasn't sure why we did that, but that was quite interesting that we would be talking to other tourists, and so, of course, we had to introduce ourselves as Filipinos!






I actually don't know why we were talking to the other tourists and students...can someone enlighten me? Is it because we wanted to extend ourselves as a Philippine delegate? 

From Wikipedia: The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. Large verandas and main halls were constructed at many popular sites during the Edo period to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims.[8]
The popular expression "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression "to take the plunge".[5] This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, one's wish would be granted. Two hundred thirty-four jumps were recorded in the Edo period and, of those, 85.4% survived.[5] The practice is now prohibited.[5]
From Wikipedia: Beneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the three streams of water do not differ in powers; people do however hold their own interpretations of what the three streams represent.

From Wikipedia: The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and "good matches".[4] Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of "love stones" placed 6 meters/20 feet apart, which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed implies that the pilgrim will find love, or true love.[9] One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that a go-between will be needed. The person's romantic interest can assist them as well.

I remember we were supposed to visit the "Kinkaku-ji" or the Golden Pavilion, but it was under renovation at that time. I was able to visit the Golden Pavilion seventeen years after and it is indeed awesome!

I think there were some who commented on how many temples we went to. For me, each temple, shrine and castle had its own distinct character and I was happy to be able to visit many of them.

Kyoto is a must-visit place in Japan! This is where one experiences the old Japan!

The next day, we were going back to Tokyo and we were excited because we will meet our Japanese friends again...and a bit sad that the dream we are living is about to end!

In Part 10, I will share one of the things we did on our free time, our visit to Kamakura with our Kanagawa University tomodachi! 

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