Sunday, March 26, 2006

京都 2005 - 32 Taiko-an - Sanjusangendo - Kyoto-ekimae

[261105] 退耕庵 Taiko-an, a subtemple of Tofukuji on e way out to e main road:


is this e principal Buddha image?


e cat didn't wander very far in as e place was deserted & appeared to be closed. according to this & this it seems that you can pay to enter into e buildings & a garden?

e beautiful ceiling above e Buddha image:


very blur as e cat didn't dare to use flash (not good for e lifespan of e paintings) + a wooden fence blocking e entrance to this hall didn't help at all when trying to focus (& there is absolutely no way e cat's back can bend into a full xia1 yao1/yoga wheel pose over e fence to face e ceiling!). wonder how many visitors look up & notice e ceiling?

e sharpened bamboo stakes (to keep 梁上君子 burglars out?) look quite vicious:


Taiko-an has a little well guarded by a little maple tree:


慧日幼稚園 kindergarten along e way out from Tofukuji to e main road:


e appreciation of all things kawaii is drilled into Japanese from a young age =P

laundromat near Tofukuji that gives new meaning to e term 'money laundering':


e main road was crowded with big fat tour coaches & security people were stationed there to control both human & vehicular traffic so that ambulances & other vehicles could still access e Red Cross hospital sitting right next to e turning to Tofukuji.

back to 三十三間堂 Sanjusangendo aka. 蓮華王院 Rengeo-in temple, where e cat was stuck at much earlier this morning because it was still closed:


e 739 year-old (counting from its reconstruction in 1266) hall (do) has 33 (sanjusan) spaces (gen) between e columns, hence e name Sanjusangendo. it is ~120m long. what do you put in a hall so huge?


you fill it with 1000 statues (each taller than e cat) of Kannon (what e Chinese call 观音 Guanyin aka. Goddess of Mercy) + 28 statues of e guardian deities (nijuhachibushu) that protect Kannon (front-most row) + 1 statue each of Raijin ( 雷神 God of Thunder) & Fujin (風神 God of Wind)....& a huge seated statue of Kannon:

(scanned from e temple's brochure as photography isn't permitted within e hall)

behind all e statues is a corridor with interesting exhibits on e architecture of e temple hall, restoration of e 1000+ statues, & annual archery contest (complete with records of past winners since e 17th century), with a lot of information in English. this temple also has free lockers, & has been done up for barrier-free access, with gentle inclined ramps & wide enough space for wheelchairs to move within areas like e section that sells souvenirs & o-mamori =)

e west verandah of e hall serves as e venue for toshiya, an annual archery contest for new adults (those who will turn 20 in that year) on e second Monday of January (成人の日 seijin no hi aka. Coming of Age day):


think it used to be a guys-only competition, where one of e events involved shooting arrows for 24 hours straight to see who could hit e target at e far end of e hall e most number of times. e record is held by a champion who landed more than 8000 of his 13000+ shots in 1686....13000+ divided by 24 hours divided by 60 minutes works out to more than 9 shots per minute or 1 arrow every 6-7 seconds. no idea if he ate or went to e loo at all or how he kept awake & focused or if he collapsed at e end of it all. now girls are allowed to take part, & many come to watch them compete in their kimonos + hakama.

east side of hall:


夜泣泉 - e spring that cries at night?


detail of roofing - [L-R] sunflower, peony & chrysanthemum:


to get to e Kamigamo area in north Kyoto from Sanjusangendo, e cat had to change buses at Kyoto-ekimae terminal. & what a sight it was at Kyoto's main bus terminal right outside Kyoto train station on a peak season weekend:


there was hardly any space to queue at e berths, with plenty of dazed lost sheep fresh off e trains & inter-city buses trying to figure out how to get to e hundreds of amazing sights in Kyoto. Kyoto City Bus company had their green-uniformed staff out in full force holding placards & stacks of free tourist maps to help with route & fare information =)

one amazing thing is how e berths do not have separate queues for e 3 or more different services that share it. when a bus arrives, people who are waiting for another service will simply step aside to let others board, & by Japanese magic e queue will fall neatly into place again, without anyone losing his place =)

today Kyoto City Bus had staff stationed at each berth to call out repeatedly e names of e most famous temples/attractions served by e various buses as they pulled up, & guide passengers onto e correct buses. e staff also helped to call out to e bus driver to wait (all buses have an intercom at e rear door where passengers board) if they noticed any stragglers running for e bus =)

Kyoto-ekimae bus terminal today was an orderly warzone, if there is ever such a thing =)

while waiting for e #4 service to 上賀茂石計町 Kamigamo-Ishikazucho, e homeless lady was spotted again:


think she is wearing all of e warm clothing that she has. over e past 2 weeks or so e cat has come across this resident of Kyoto station several times. a reminder of how e rich-poor gap (more like a gaping chasm now) in Japan (& most countries around e world) keeps widening, & that a beautiful city like Kyoto has its harsh realities. here in Japan e homeless are usually careful not to cause obstruction or any nuisance (maybe except when they are drunk?), keeping a low profile & out of e way (like how e lady moved away to stand discreetly at an empty berth), & their belongings packed neatly:


think e police are quite strict with them too. later today e cat would come across more of them, like how it met e homeless living around Shinobazu pond in Tokyo's Ueno Park 3+ years ago.

京都 2005 - 31 Tofukuji

[261105] Tofukuji temple in e south of Kyoto has a small stream running through a little valley full of maples that burst into a riot of reds each autumn, making it one of e most well-known momiji sites in Japan. two parallel covered wooden bridges overlook e 洗玉澗 Sengyokukan valley of maples, 臥雲橋 Ga-un-kyo & 通天橋 Tsuten-bashi.

08:16AM at Ga-un-kyo:


e view of e Sengyokukan valley from Ga-un-kyo:


e front half of e queue at e Tsuten-bashi ticket booth (actually not really 'at', since those in e middle of e queue are already too far away to be considered 'at' e booth? =P):


back half of e queue too far away to photograph =P siao liao. e place opens only at 08:30AM & many have been patiently queueing here for almost an hour, according to a friendly security guard. after buying tickets, proceed to join another queue to e actual bridge:


first of e crowds move into e bridge queue:


very systematic, very orderly, very Japanese ;)

e bridge, with traces of e water that Japanese like to splash on pavements & roads to reduce e dust (a practice called uchimizu):


first guy literally runs onto e bridge & wastes no time squatting down to snap away with his camera:


before e rest of e crowd closes in on him:


e view from e bridge, without actually stepping onto it (judging from e previous photos, e cat had obviously given up on queueing to get in =P):


meanwhile e queue continues to grow as more & more arrive:


& e rest of Tofukuji remains totally deserted:


this is e big fat 三門 Sanmon gate, e oldest main gate of a Zen temple in Japan, with a lavatory (*LOL*) dating back to e 14th century (*faint*).

almost decided to leave Tofukuji after taking a short walk around e grounds, but suddenly remembered that there was a garden here that was on e cat's list of 'must-see' Kyoto gardens (culled from AR1722 lecture readings, websites & travel guides). turned out to be hidden behind e walls next to e Tsuten-bashi queue:


方丈 = hojo = abbot's quarters, surrounded by 4 gardens:


south garden, a kare sansui (dry landscape) garden:


e 5 moss-covered hills & 4 groups of rocks standing in a sea of white gravel symbolise 五山 (5 mountains), 四仙島 (4 islands) & 八海 hakkai (8 seas) respectively.

tipping e garden to fit it all into e frame:


why isn't e gravel all sliding off this thing? =P



west garden 井田市松:


turning e corner to e north garden, Tsuten-bashi (lit. 'connecting to sky' bridge? 'bridge to heaven'?) & e maples of Sengyokukan valley pop up suddenly:


totally unexpected! didn't know that e bridge & maple valley could be seen from here =)) & in this northwest corner of e abbot's quarters is a little platform 通天台 for you to admire e maples while making your unwanted guest appearance in many of e photos taken by those on e bridge =P


time to escape, after spotting quite a few visitors on e bridge appearing to point across e valley at e cat *LOL* but one last look at e maples before heading on to e 3rd garden:


love e emerald moss & cute round shrubs of e north garden 小市松:


e east garden 北斗七星, where e stones are arranged to form e big dipper:


elegant combi of raked gravel + green moss + weathered stone + symbolism =)) how magical it would be to admire e south & east gardens under e light of e full moon at night *dream* to think e forgetful cat almost walked out of Tofukuji without coming to this place....!!

south garden 08:38AM:


quite eerie to walk into such a silent empty place after encountering e crowds outside....a very weird feeling of trepidation. only after paying for e entry ticket to this garden, & e appearance of two other visitors, did e cat really feel that it wasn't trespassing into some forbidden Zen sanctuary sealed off from e outside world.

south garden 09:19AM:


taken as e cat was leaving. like Ryoanji, this is one place you should come to at e opening time ;) fortunately, unlike Ryoanji, this place doesn't have silly commentary blasting from loudspeakers to kill e atmosphere of a Zen temple.

crossing Ga-un-kyo again, on e way out to e main road:


visitors in e Sengyokakun valley (above) & more visitors on Tsuten-bashi directly abovehead (below):


outside along e road leading to Tofukuji, more tourists are coming to join e queue, which hasn't grown any shorter at all: