Snapshots of Japan: October 2014 – II

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I may have said this before, but cats dig shrines.

More stuff from Kyoto and environs this time.  The first (and the last) batch are pictures from the Takao area, in the Western mountains outside Kyoto.  This includes Kouzan-ji, a temple which should be familiar to any fan of Kyousougiga, one of 2013’s best series.  I love anime pilgrimages, and this is one I’ve wanted to make since that show entranced me last year.  Kouzan-ji is of course the home of the Chouju-giga, considered by most to be the first manga and likely to have been written by the priest Myoue.  The temple also includes a statue Myoue is said to have carved to honor his faithful “always waiting” dog.

Among the other highlights here are some more shots of the Arashiyama bamboo forest and Tennouji gardens (taken on the same day as Takao).  We also have the Myoshinji Zen temple complex in Northwest Kyoto, specifically Shunkoin, where I took a Zen meditation class on a Sunday morning (followed by a lovely tea ceremony).

Then we have tiny Honen-in, on the Northern end of the Philosopher’s Path.  Honen-in is small, free and little-known, but to my eye it may just be the most beautiful place in Kyoto.  I happened to be there just as Typhoon Phanfone was arriving in Kyoto, and welcomed in the storm there – it was an oddly impactful moment, emblematic of Kyoto’s limitless ability to conjure magic out of the air anywhere, and at any time.  From that same stretch of the path is tiny but gorgeous and primal Otoyo Shrine, where the local Kami are mice.

The last group of photos here is from the following day, when I visited the Kyoto Animation studio and store (a few Hyouka items, but sadly not many), which are about 20 minutes by train south of Kyoto in fact.  They’re in separate locations and both quite humble for a studio which has had such a profound impact on the current state of anime.  Afterwards I visited a place I’ve never missed in any trip to Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and a temple I’d never visited in Tofukuji.  Fushimi Inari is without question the most spiritual place I’ve ever visited – there’s an other-worldly quality to it, a sense that very old spirits are walking beside you at all times.  The shrine has a large cat population and I’ve never failed to encounter them on any visit, this being no exception – this little fellow was extraordinarily friendly and vocal.

Finally, as I arrived back to pick up my bag from the inn at which I’d been staying (in the process of moving to a hostel) I saw this incredible rainbow – one which my sister told me she’d seen from her plane as she took off from Itami Airport.  If the moment at Honen-in had marked the beginning of the storm this marked the end – with a poetry that, as usual, only Kyoto could provide.

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5 comments

  1. l

    Out of curiosity, when were you in Kyoto and when did you go to Honen-in? I was in Kyoto from 4-5 & 7 Oct and was at Honen-in on 5 Oct (about 11am-12 noon). Took a day trip to Miyajima Island on 6 Oct (close-up of the famous torii at low tide)

  2. I was in Kyoto from Oct 2-8, in fact – I was at Honen-in on the 5th, amazingly enough. But closer to 4 PM, when Phanfone started to roll in.

  3. l

    Between 2:30-4:30pm on 5 Oct, I was at the Kyoto National Museum for the "Kyoto: Splendors of the Ancient Capital" exhibition. Ensconced within the modern exhibition hall while it rained in Kyoto.

  4. v

    just being curious, are we actually allowed to visit KyoAni studio? certain areas that are opened to public?

  5. Only the shop. But I have heard tales of guests showing up and being taken on impromptu tours by friendly staffers. It's a very Mom 'n Pop looking operation.

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