Monday, January 30, 2006

京都 2005 - 21 Nanzenji - Eikando

[221105] chatted with a Romanian uncle as we left e hostel together early in e morning. amazing how he gets around in Japan with limited English & zero knowledge of Japanese. silly cat has no problem with English + can read a few kanji characters, & can still end up buying milk coffee instead of milk tea by mistake. already 8 nights here in K's House, & still many many interesting people from around e world to meet! =)

e #206 City bus deposited e cat at e Higashiyama Niomon stop, where it walked along e canal towards Nanzenji, & ended up along e path that passes under e 水道 suidokaku (aqueduct), linking Keage subway station & Konchi-in:


here there were plenty of schoolboys sprinting towards e high school in between Nanzenji & Eikando temples, obviously very late =P

first stop was e deserted 金地院 Konchi-in, a sub-temple of e big fat Nanzenji temple complex:


probably so empty because a big fat section was under renovation, & e famous tsuru-kame (crane & tortoise) garden could only be glimpsed through gaps in e scaffolding *grrrrrr*

e akechi-mon gate opening into e Benten-ike pond garden (left):

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in & around 南禅寺 Nanzenji:





maple + ginkgo, e killer combi of e cat's two favourite trees in full autumn glory:

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南禅院 Nanzen-in, another sub-temple:

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beautiful moss:

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a short walk from Nanzenji is 永観堂 Eikando aka. Zenrinji temple, one of e best places for maples in autumn:


[1, 9, 10, 12] maples; [2, 11] ripples around e rocks & even e sticks supporting e overhanging branches of e pine trees; [3] aerial view of e Eikando grounds from e pagoda; [4] art on display in e 画仙堂 Gasendo; [6] bridge over e Hosyo pond



simply brilliant & well worth e peak season (double e usual 500 yen!) admission fee =))

Friday, January 27, 2006

京都 2005 - 20 Kyodai + Gion

[211105] along Imadegawadori, e main street running westwards from Ginkakuji to Kyoto University (aka. 京大 Kyodai) & Demachiyanagi (at e confluence of e two rivers that form e Kamogawa):

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lunchtime, & e cat is looking for fish, & e bear is eyeing e badger & ducks hungrily. can't read Japanese so no idea if badger spaghetti & duck sandwich are on e menu.

if you are not sure whether you still have hair:


nearing e Kyodai campus, bumped into a group of PRC students who were helping a friend move house, hence e furniture that they were trying to balance on their bicycles. across e street on e north side of Imadegawa-dori, spied a photo studio with Fujifilm logos - indication of a higher chance that it would have a xD card (used by only Fujifilm & Olympus digital cameras) reader. rate for burning photos was 525 yen per 400MB CDROM, about e average price in this city.

unfortunately e computer with e xD card reader choked on e 1GB xD card & collapsed after 45 whole minutes (& many puzzled looks from e staff & manager who checked on e progress every so often) of trying to transfer data from it. made e cat damn pai seh about bringing them this 'monster' that they couldn't tame....e staff even asked for e camera model & called up Olympus to find out if e problem was with their card reader/computer.

in e end they asked e cat to e back of e shop where they loaded e offending card onto another reader connected to what was probably e most powerful computer they had, confirmed through e language barrier that e cat wanted everything burnt on CD, & told it to come back at 17:00PM. & to apologise for having to make e cat wait, for not having a powerful-enough computer, for not being able to meet a customer's needs promptly, for not being perfect....they pressed 3 packets of tissue paper with e Fujifilm logo & cute-sy picture of 3 kittens & 3 doggies into e cat's paws, insisting with many deep bows that e cat accept them before it could leave. pai seh si....

suddenly, with e faithful Olympus bereft of any memory card, e cat was at a loss. & this explains why it has no photos of its visit to e Kyodai main campus & e university's history museum in their Clock Tower Centennial Hall, but only short notes copied from e exhibits on e university's rather interesting & tumultuous history, some reproduced in 'longhand' here:

recreation of lodgings of Econs student in 1930: 'many entered Econs faculty out of admiration for Kawakami Hajime who was studying Marxism....students in those days frequently read books on Literature & Philosophy that had no direct relation to their field specialisation....'

沢柳事件 Sawayanagi Incident (think this University President quit his post?)
河上事件 Kawakami Incident (expelled for subversion?)

'in e 1910s & 1920s, it [e university] also developed a strained relationship with e state concerning e issue of procurement & protection of university autonomy....'

'students during wartime....'

'student revolt....President Okuda Azuma calling for end to blockade of e Student Affairs Bureau & clock tower in 1969....1969 burned[sic] e main gate....entrance exams had to be off-campus....clash with riot police at Hyakumanben crossing....late 1960s - student revolts at universities across Japan'

1994: published self-evaluation 'Verifying e Academic Tradition of Freedom'

one who can confidently acknowledge/confront e past will be equally as comfortable dealing with e uncertainties of e future? somehow e cat thinks that Nantah's relatively short history can compete with Kyodai's, if only it could be documented & exhibited in e same way without stepping on any political toes ;) why is freedom so often equated with subversion over here?

more notes from e exhibits, for e cat's otaku-ish friends who actually have their own geek code:

manuscript of Yukawa Hideki's first article on meson theory (1934) 'On e Interaction of Elementary Particles I' - graduation thesis presented to Faculty of Science in 大正 Taisho period (1917, 1924)

'postwar - admit women....last diploma certificate issued in name of Kyoto Imperial University in 1947, thereafter became Kyoto University....'

1869 vol 1 no. 1 copy of e very first issue of
Nature journal: 'Nature! we are surrounded by & embraced by her; powerless to separate ourselves from her....we live in her midst & know her not....we constantly act upon her, & yet have no power over her.'

Discours de la methode pour bien conduire sa raison by Descartes

1823 vol 1 no. 1 copy of e very first issue of

Philosophical Transactions of e Royal Society of London....'giving some account of e present undertakings, studies & labours of e Ingenious in many considerable parts of e world'

this cat admires & has much respect for e thirst for knowledge =)

explored e university co-op in e basement of e Centennial building for a peek at how similar/different it is from e one in e university-that-almost-refused-to-let-e-cat-graduate-from. Kyodai's version has a pharmacy, an incredible array of large recycling bins for various types of trash (even requiring you to separate caps from PET bottles), a business suit rental service (for job interviews) & notice boards full of job lobangs & info on discounted/concession concert/museum/etc tickets. & matcha pudding in e konbini section *satisfied burp*

through e ginkgo tree-lined streets of e main campus back to Imadegawa-dori & e photo studio to pick up e memory cards & CDROMs:


e incredibly helpful & very professional Korakudo 光楽堂 at 京都市左京区北白川西町82 (Kyoto-shi Sakyo-ku Kita-Shirakawa Nishi-cho 82)

& then e cat was off to Gion from e Kita-Shirakawa bus stop right outside Korakudo, where it discovered a very nice matcha cream puff 'bun' in e LAWSON konbini Gion outlet, & wandered into stores selling elaborate kimono accessories....


too-tiny-to-be-worn wooden clogs....


too-pretty-to-be-eaten wagashi sweets....


& a little textile art exhibition by Matsumoto Takehiro in e Kyoto Craft Center, a place full of pretty Japanese craft items on display & for sale.

tested out a hyaku yen (100 yen) kaiten sushi restaurant at e southwest corner of e Sanjo-Kawaramachi intersection - e quality is good (wouldn't survive in Japan if it wasn't?), items like ikura (salmon roe) sushi were just 100 yen/plate (2 pieces), & e amount of rice that comes with each piece of sushi is much less than what you get in Singapore (i.e. more liao4 less rice).

across e intersection was another kaiten sushi outlet that seems to specialise in some sort of unagi sushi, with a cute conveyor belt display at e door:


to be tested on another day =)

Monday, January 23, 2006

京都 2005 - 19 Ginkakuji - Daimonjiyama

[211105] 10 minutes before opening time, & e first tour group (of PRCs) was already pushing against e doors at e entrance to 銀閣寺 Ginkakuji temple, ready to charge in e instant they were unlocked - or ram it down & barge in if they weren't opened by 08:30AM sharp....

& in they rushed, pushing & shoving their way past e ticket office. & e cat decided to temporarily lose its ability to read & comprehend e kanji characters 表参道 on e signs, & walk through e grounds of Ginkakuji in e opposite (counterclockwise) direction starting from e back of e 'Silver Pavilion'. & so it wandered through in peace & quiet, until both tourists & cat reached e halfway mark along e 表参道 ;)

early in e morning, Ginkakuji was still hiding in e shadows of e Higashiyama mountains - not very good lighting for photos. e cat had planned to come here later in e day - after climbing Daimonjiyama - but couldn't find e starting point of e trail up e mountain.


[1, 2, 5-7, 9] e 'silver pavilion' of Ginkakuji that never got its coat of silver; [2, 3, 6-8] e ginshadan raked gravel formation that reminds e cat of a big fat giant soon kueh; [4] e kogetsudai (moon reflecting?) truncated cone


[1] samples of e mosses grown in e temple garden; [2, 8] kogetsudai; [3, 4] ginshadan; [5, 7] e beautiful autumn colours; [6] e quiet elegance of Ginkakuji, a real contrast to Kinkakuji; [9] aerial view of Ginkakuji & Yoshida hill

had better luck finding e starting point of e Daimonjiyama climb after asking one of e Ginkakuji staff. apparently e cat had mistaken a fork leading to e Ginkakuji staff carpark & maintenance facilities for e fork mentioned in LP's 'Hiking in Japan' guidebook =P

to help fellow sotongs find their way to e starting point:

Daimonjiyama route - left fork leads to e Korean high school in Kyoto....


if you're around Ginkakuji-michi before 08:00AM on a schoolday you can follow e trail of Korean high school students to get here.

right leads to Daimonjiyama:


map of e trail:


e daimonji:


there are 6 of such kanji characters 'carved' onto e slopes on 6 of e mountains in north Kyoto - firewood is laid out in e shape of e characters in e clearings & set alight on e night of 16 August for e 大文字五山送り火 Daimonji Gozan Okuribi festival, to guide spirits on their way back to e netherworld.

e big fat red banner mentioned in LP's 'Hiking in Japan':


e path enters e forest proper after e tiny bridge with metal railings on e right (above) & gets a little steep....


before reaching this bunch of jizo statues at a fork:


taking e left [L] & passing under e pulley system used to haul firewood up e mountain [R]....

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& a few long steep flights of stairs later, e left end of e 横 heng2 (horizontal stroke) of e 大 'dai' in 大文字 daimonji is reached (below left):

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撇 pie3 (above right), 捺 na4 (below left), & e intersection of all 3 strokes (below right):

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shrine at e intersection:


e whole point of climbing all e way up here:


e entire Kyoto at your feet!

(stitched together lousily - no tripod - from 6 frames, hence e 'whirlpool' effect in e larger version)

e individual frames:


on super clear days one can supposedly see as far as Osaka (somewhere behind e clouds/fog/smog on e left above)





5 of e 6 characters on 5 of e 6 mountain slopes:

左大文字 hidari daimonji on Daihokusan [L], somewhere above Kinkakuji, & e boat-shaped 船形 funagata daimonji on Nishigamo Funayama [R]....

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why there are two 'dai' characters on two different mountains? anyone knows?

妙法 myoho daimonji - 妙 myo [L] & 法 ho [R] on Matsugasaki Nishiyama....

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e 鳥居形 toriigata on Senoji-san in Saga couldn't be seen from here, but e cat would hunt it down later in this trip!

how much firewood is used:

more views:



just as e cat was about to start climbing down, e place was invaded by kindergarten kids on a school outing:


wonderful thing was how they yelled ganbatte at their slower friends & ran back to try & pull them up e last bit to e top =)


they started laying out picnic mats:


yesh, e cat kena Hello Kitty-ed here *grrrr*

& posing for class photos....


....before raising their arms & screaming BANZAAAAAAAIIIII down e mountainside =P kids have super powerful lungs.

e steep way down:


flaming red maples....



....& yellow gingko in someone's garden along e path leading from Ginkakuji to e start of e hike:


cat love autumn colours =) living a dream come true to see all these - happiiiiieeeeeee =)))

along Ginkakuji-michi:


e signs on e left are advertising 八ツ橋 yatsuhashi (lit. 8 bridges?), e yummy sweet that Kyoto is famous for. unfortunately they do not last long - only bought a small box of black sesame flavoured ones for parents on e very morning e cat left Kyoto. apart from e more traditional matcha, chestnut, sweet potato & black sesame flavours, there are strawberry & banana+chocolate versions too.

e Ginkakuji end of Tetsugakunomichi, e famous 'Path of Philosophy':