Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gold and Geisha at Kyoto

January 2007

It was my first and only time to experience staying in a backpacker hostel/ryokan. I lived in a dorm style room with shared bathrooms for a few nights. It was safe and clean but I just had to be careful with my valuables.

My bed

Kyoto is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million and was formerly the imperial capital of Japan.

Gion is the Geisha district in Kyoto. I was lucky enough to see real geisha's walking around and performing at the Gion theatre. Dont be fooled though, there are a lot of tourists in geisha costume due to the numerous "Geisha for a Day" tours.

At 2nd row of Gion theatre

One of the most outstanding Zen buddhist temple in the world is in Kyoto. The world renown Golden Pavilion is covered with pure gold leaves.

Its neighboring city, Nara, also boasts of its own temples specifically, Todajii, which houses Japan's largest buddha. By the time the Buddha was completed in 751, it had consumed most of Japan's bronze production for several years and left the country almost bankrupt.

Plan a trip to Kyoto/Nara if you are visiting Japan for this first time!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kamakura with Mom and Alpi

December 2006

When my mom visited me in Tokyo, Alpi took us to Kamakura (鎌倉市) which is a city located 50 km southwest of Tokyo.

Kamakura is famous for its Kōtoku-in, with its monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha. A 15th century tsunami destroyed the temple that once housed the Great Buddha, but the statue survived and has remained outdoors ever since.

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū (鶴岡八幡宮) is the most important shrine in the city of Kamakura. Both the shrine and the city were built with Feng Shui in mind. The present location was carefully chosen as the most propitious after consultation with a diviner because it had the
Hokuzan 北山 mountain to the north, the Namerikawa river to the east, a great road to the west (the Kotō Kaidō 古東街道) and was open to the south (on Sagami Bay). Each direction was protected by a god.

(Old picture of the shrine)

(Wishes written at wooden plates and hung everywhere)