This weekend we visited a Shinto shrine, Yushima Tenmagu, not far from the house, over near Ueno park. It was cold and rainy, but the plum blossom festival went on nonetheless. I had not thought about what sort of temple it was, but once I saw all the food and trinket vendors it could not be Buddhist (shochu sales and … belly dancing?????). It was nice to see something so local that we had passed over through the years.
Valentines day was uneventful. We watched some episodes of Glee. I was surprised to see the mention of Singapore (“tidy streets and the cane … that’s what we need here!” hahahah) when the coach did a segment on the local news. That and some pad thai, and the day was over. Valentines day in Japan is different than elsewhere. Here it’s for the girls to give all the males in their life gifts, while on White day the roles are reversed.
[singlepic id=3300 w=320 h=240 float=right] We went over to Kamakura to see a bit of autumn and the temples in the area. Kenchoji, the largest Zen temple in the area was beautiful, but Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a shinto shrine nearby, ruined it all with such a disgusting commercial atmosphere overflowing with tourists and touts. I couldn’t help but be reminded of someone in the past having thrown the money lenders out of a temple somewhere … We saw many nice restaurants and would have liked to have some stew to stave off the cold, but the line for the most interesting place wound down myriad stairs and on down the street. 8(
Spent the last few days in Kyoto again. We got to see Kiyomizu-Dera, a Buddhist temple founded by Enchin in the 8th year of Hoki (778 C.E.). It’s got a beautiful view from the mountain balcony – sakura in bloom. It is interesting that not a single nail was used in any part of the construction. Oddly, the place seems to be sponsored by Google with all of these “Japanese” rice paper tall lamps emblazoned with the logo. This time E and I stayed in a nice little ryokan with all the requisite kaiseki meals and such. I finally got to get into the palace which is a must see. We went to the golden temple and saw a bunch of raked sand and strategically placed rocks. My favorite thing there is the large zen temple and the grounds surrounding it. Nara has some mangy deer all over the place.