Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kyoto 2008 AD

Last Sunday we took the Nogomi superfast shinkensen from Tokyo station to the old capitol of Japan , Kyoto.
Dropped our stuff at Palace Hotel.
Into the subway and once on the streets a light snow began to fall,
we headed down to Shoren -in and Yasaka -jinja Shrine in freezing wind.
Crowds watch priests sweeping up coins thrown onto the Shrine during the day ,
the sound of money attracts even more young people to throw money.

On the streets by Gion,
dense crowd buying charms , gifts, milling about , too slow by half
through it all bikes brush past,
a pack of girls in hot pants somehow brave the chill as a group unloads their van.

Daitoku -ji Temple complex in light snow.
Many gardens, gravel paths, temples and not crowded.

Ryoan-ji Temple late afternoon.
Large crowd is leaving as we arrive , Germans in the bathroom , Osakan three sisters chatting their way through the Temple, cell phones beeping with each photo. Within minutes of arrival the sitting area in front of the rock garden is all full of people.
We get a few minutes there sitting before the rocks before retreating around the corner and out onto the forest trails.
A tall stand of bamboo in bright sun.
Moss covered grounds smooth velvety bright fresh tea green.

Old Entsu-ji Temple way up out of town and over the hill.
The hill winds higher and higher from town.
Taxis brush past, a house with broken windows, another with front steps lost under weeds , vines and grass.
20 minutes before closing we arrive, high hill shades most of the area
but bright winter sun shines down into the wide back yard garden made a long time ago.
We sit on heated pads in front of the rock garden , another rapt visitor
and a group of young people, girls getting cold hands from sitting too long.
Mountains in the distance.
Sound of construction , whining power tools nearby.
The presiding priest attendant coughs into mic and plays a tape of priest droning stories about the Temple.
The view will soon change with a new building going up.
Around a corner we can see part of the Temple wall is already crumbling falling down after gouging from a bulldozer.
Thin sliced stand of bamboo borders newly dug lot.
Leaving , we see the construction is right up to wall behind the Temple.
A crying fucking shame ...

Large handmade good market on Temple grounds , some sellers warm in the sun ,
others covered in blankets freezing in the shade.
A couple trips to Park Cafe where we meet the owner Hiroshi Makino (also Club Metro) and
his friend Keitaro Kaji ( friend of Ape) and drinks sharing a few laughs amid news of old friends in common.
Looking for lunch late one afternoon, in - between regular lunch time hours has us looking and looking
until we see one local go inside a rough curtain fronting a no name eaterie.
Which turns out to be run by a woman from Akita and has good saba, two other customers and a soccer game on.

Three nights, four days in Kyoto.
The Nogomi speeds back to Tokyo last night we're tired, legs sore.
Sushi bento and green tea when we get back.


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