Catch-up Continued

Picking up from when I left off in my last post: On Saturday, the 25th of November, I went to Kyoto, crowds be damned.

But speaking of the crowds . . . man, they were ridiculous. It was peak season for the autumn leaves and the city was packed. I arrived at Kyoto station around noon, with plans of eating at a particular famous restaurant. I had some trouble finding the place, and when I got there at last, I was met with an absurdly long line. It probably would have taken three hours to be seated, so I scrapped that idea. A lot more time was wasted in searching for an alternative, but the place I finally found was pretty neat. The restaurant, named Imobou Hiranoya, serves an unusual dish that has been it’s thing for the 300 years that it’s been in business. See the website for pictures and details.

After lunch, I walked along “The Philosopher’s Walk,” which is the route a famous professor of philosphy at Kyoto University (during the 30s, I think) used to walk as a daily constitutional. The path starts at Nanzenji, a major temple, and follows a canal until reaching the vicinity of Ginkakuji (“the Silver Pavillion”). The path was beautiful, but absolutely choked by the crowd. It’s probably lovely on weekdays.

Daunted by the crowds and pressed for time, I didn’t go into Nanzenji, but in the last hour of the day’s decent light and weather, I visited Ginkakuji.

The Silver Pavillion is not actually covered with silver, but it’s construction was inspired by Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavillion, and it was often used for moon-viewing parties. This isn’t the best picture, but I had to work around the crowds of people.

Ginkakuji1

Some history: The Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa didn’t like politics and wanted to retire from his position, but didn’t have any heirs. He named his brother as his successor, but a year later his wife gave birth to a boy. Kyoto divided into factions, with one half supporting the brother and the other backing the infant heir. This led to the Onin War (1467-1478), which in turn eventually led to a period of warring states that wracked the nation until reunification under the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600. Yoshimasa has been reviled by many for ignoring the whole mess and pursuing poetry and painting while Kyoto burned, but at the same time, he fostered a flowering of the arts that developed much of what we now think of as traditional Japanese culture. Yoshimasa built Ginkakuji in 1482, and it was here that the tea ceremony, flower arranging, and influential styles of architecture, painting, and gardening variously originated or matured.

So there’s your history lesson for the day. I’ll leave you with one more picture.

Ginkakuji2

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One Response to “Catch-up Continued”

  1. Nicole Says:

    thanks, Kevin. Once again, beautiful pictures. And I loved your history lesson. Did you feel the “ancientness”? Man, talk about steeped in tradition… (did you get the tea reference? okay, I’m a little punchy…it’s the home stretch to Christmas!!)

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