Oct. 22nd, 2014

gurdymonkey: (gurdymonkey2)


Before dawn whitens
The window, crows gossip in
Insistent voices.
A cricket chants his message:
Get up! The city awaits!

If Ellen's smartphone app is accurate, we did ten miles on foot yesterday.

Subway to the center of Kyoto to To-ji, a Buddhist temple that dates to the late 700s. A monthly market sprang up in conjunction with a particular service in veneration of Kobo Daishi and as flea markets go, it was marvelous! All sorts of tantalizing street food, vendors offering free tastes of homemade pickles, dried sweet potato and other yummy morsels. I scored a bolt of indigo and white kasuri cotton - and impressed several Japanese ladies who started questioning me about my purchase: I knew what I had in my hands, I told them it would become hakama, and I was going to sew it myself.

From there, we decided to walk back to the postmodern pile that is Kyoto Sation and catch a train to Uji. Renowned for the quality of its tea, Uji was often used as a country retreat by the aristocracy of the Heian period, and indeed is associated with portions of "The Tale of Genji," written at the end of the tenth century.

We started with the Byodoin, a temple complex that originated as the country estate of Minamoto no Shigenobu, Minister of the Left. The Phoenix Hall is the only building that survives from the 11th century and recently reopened after refurbishment..The accompanying and unobtrusive modern museum on the grounds includes reconstruction of the interior paintings of the Phoenix Hall and some of the original musical instrument playing bodhisatvas that circle the upper walls above a massive golden Buddha. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201204190069 shows what the reconstructed paintings might have looked like. I have no photos of the interior of the museum or the Phoenix Hall itself, because photography was not permitted.

After a break for lunch at a great little place on the main pilgrimage street, we crossed the river, walked through Uji Shrine and Ujigami Shrine as they are both in close proximity, then wound through the wooded hillside to the Tale of Genji museum, which offers some interpretive exhibits devoted to the Heian period and the Uji chapters of the Tale. After a brief break for ice cream in the museum, we walked back to Uji Station, grateful that the heat of the day was abating. We stopped at Kyoto Station to explore the massive, modern complex, check out parts of the department store housed there, and have some great fried goodness at Katsu Kura. I had pork tenderloin and the katsu equivalent of a crab cake, accompanied by cabbage salad, rice, dark miso soup and pickles.

Our feet were worn to nubbins and if Ellen's smartphone pedometer app is to be believed, we logged approximately 10 miles on foot.


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