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Japan album for grandparents, 1/2

As a Christmas present, Chad and I gave my grandparents albums of our trip to Japan. Though the pictures were chosen, and the accompanying text written, for a pretty specific audience, the sixty pictures we ended up including are a decent sampling of our many, many pictures from the trip, so I thought I'd share them here. This first post has twenty-seven pictures; click on the pictures for larger versions; the second post has thirty-three pictures.

Kiyomizu-dera terrace
We started our vacation in Kyoto, which was the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868. Because it was not firebombed in WWII, it is full of famous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, gardens, and other historical sites.

Kiyomizu-dera, established in 798, is a complex of temples in the east part of Kyoto. This terrace provides spectacular views across the city. There is a saying that if one jumps off the terrace and survives, one’s wish will be granted. (However, you’re not allowed to try any more.)
Kiyomizu-dera terrace
Konchi-in
The “Crane and Turtle” garden in a small temple called Konchi-in. It is one of the few gardens that can be proved to be designed by the famous Kobori Enshu.
Konchi-in
Tô-ji pagoda
The pagoda at Tô-ji, another very old temple complex in Kyoto. We visited during its famous monthly flea market, which was busy, lively fun.

This pagoda is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. Kate’s carrying an umbrella to keep the very hot sun off her head, and a small towel to mop the sweat off her face. (Kyoto was undergoing a heat wave while we were there, with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity.)
Tô-ji pagoda
Higashi Hongan-ji fountain
Temples and shrines usually have fountains for visitors to dip water out of and rinse their hands. This dragon fountain at Higashi Hongan-ji, a temple near Kyoto’s rail station, is a particularly cool one.

The white background is a construction fence blocking off major restoration work.
Higashi Hongan-ji fountain
Himeji castle from far
Himeji Castle dates from about 1600 and is a short train trip from Kyoto. We found it a wonderful place to visit, with excellent English signs and lots of interesting detail about the defensive features of Japanese castles. However, as the pictures show, it is high up on a hill and involves climbing lots of stairs . . .
Himeji castle from far
Himeji castle from near
Himeji castle from near
Chad inside Himeji castle
Not only does visiting Himeji Castle involve climbing lots of stairs, but those stairs are in buildings that were designed for very short people. And it was really hot.

(This is inside one of the side buildings, but all of Himeji Castle has low doorways. Some of them are so low that they have red ribbons hanging down to alert even Japanese people that they should duck.)
Chad inside Himeji castle
Nanzen-ji forest
There’s something very peaceful about bamboo stands and old red pine trees. This was taken at Nanzen-ji, another complex of temples in Kyoto.
Nanzen-ji forest
Eikando Zenrin-ji decorative rain channel
This chain of small buckets channels rain gently to the ground. Even very ordinary things like this in Japan are often elegant, especially at temples.

We took this picture at Eikando Zenrin-ji in Kyoto, which is not only pretty but has a famous statue of a Buddha walking and looking over its shoulder. Legend has it that the statue came to life in 1082 and started walking in the monks’ ritual. The head monk stopped in surprise, and then the statue turned its head and called to the monk to follow. (We don’t have a picture because you’re usually not allowed to take pictures of religious statues.)
Eikando Zenrin-ji decorative rain channel
Path of Philosophy
This peaceful walkway on the east side of Kyoto runs along a canal and is known as the Philosopher’s Walk or the Path of Philosophy. It was named this because in the early 1900s, a prominent philosopher used to walk here while thinking. There are yet more temples and shrines on either side of the path, as well as shops and houses.
Path of Philosophy
Ginkaku-ji
Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion, is a temple at the north end of the Philosopher’s Walk. The name comes from a legend that when it was built in 1474, it was supposed to be covered in silver but money ran out. The current historical research suggests this isn’t true, but the name has stuck. The building is a classic example of two styles of architecture, and the surrounding woods are very beautiful.

In the sand garden in front, the cone represents Mount Fuji.
Ginkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, was also supposed to be covered in gold but money ran out—except in 1950, a disaffected monk burnt the temple down, and when it was rebuilt, the top two stories were covered with pure gold leaf. It is not nearly as serene as the Silver Pavilion, but it is very eye-catching.
Kinkaku-ji
Hôryû-ji roof ornaments
Many temples and other buildings have roof ornaments of plants, animals, or unusual creatures. This particularly lively dog is from Hôryû-ji, a set of very old temples near Nara, about an hour away from Kyoto. Note the demon faces on the ends of the two roof beams, too.

The round pieces at the end of the roof are decorated with wave patterns, to ward off fires. (Traditional Japanese buildings are built out of wood. Fire is a constant presence in the history of Japan’s cities.)
Hôryû-ji roof ornaments
Komae manhole cover
It’s not just the temples that get decorated. This is a manhole cover in Komae, a suburb of Tokyo where Chad lived for three months in 1998. Other manhole covers in the area had different designs.
Komae manhole cover
Deer and small children in Nara
Deer are considered sacred, messengers to the gods, and a huge herd of them live in a park in Nara.

Small children feeding the deer, with much shrieking and running away.
Deer and small children in Nara
Deer and Kate in Nara
Kate feeding the deer, who are more than a little pushy about wanting their food.
Deer and Kate in Nara
Daibutsu at Tôdai-ji
The most famous thing in Nara is the Daibutsu, or Great Buddha, at Tôdai-ji. It’s more impressive because of its size—almost fifty feet high—than as art, particularly since its hands and head are relatively modern reconstructions.
Daibutsu at Tôdai-ji
Kasuga Taisha lanterns
Elaborate lanterns are often found at both temples and shrines, but it seems as though there are more at shrines. These are just a few of the 3,000 lanterns at Kasuga Taisha in Nara.
Kasuga Taisha lanterns
Zuihô-in Zen garden
Kyoto is famous for its Zen gardens, and not all of them are old. This sand garden at Zuihô-in was designed in the 1960s and was one of our favorites: who would have thought that sand, rock, and moss could be so energetic?
Zuihô-in Zen garden
Chad in slippers
Because you don’t wear shoes inside temples or shrines, many tourist places give you slippers to wear. They’re awkward if you’re not used to them, and they never fit Chad very well.
Chad in slippers
Koto-in framed garden
Japanese landscape designers often take into consideration how gardens will look from inside, framed through open sliding doors. Here’s an example from inside a Kyoto temple called Koto-in.
Koto-in framed garden
Us and our translator for Nijo Jinya
Nijo Jinya is a famous inn in Kyoto that was designed to make paranoid lords feel safe. It’s full of hidden guard posts from which guards could drop down on impudent visitors, secret staircases, trick cupboards, traps for the unwary . . . (Ian Fleming reportedly said that he couldn’t put it in a Bond novel because no-one would believe it.)

This picture is us outside the inn with our translator, Minamino-san.
Us and our translator for Nijo Jinya
Pontochô street
Pontochô is a “pleasure district” of Kyoto, known for its geisha, tea houses, and restaurants. (The kimono-wearing woman in this picture might be a geisha, a geisha in training, or just someone dressing up.)
Pontochô street
House with many plants
Plants seem to be very important in Japan, because almost every house we passed had something growing outside. Most of them didn’t go to the extremes of this house in northwest Kyoto, though.
House with many plants
Fushimi Inari main gate
Fushimi Inari is a Shinto shrine in Kyoto to the deity of rice, sake, and luck. This is the main gate. The guardians on the side are foxes, which are Inari’s messengers.
Fushimi Inari main gate
Torii at Fushimi Inari
At Fushimi Inari, there are literally thousands of torii, the red gates, all over the mountainside behind the main gate. Also, lots and lots of stairs going up and down the mountain and through the torii . . .
Torii at Fushimi Inari
Guardian foxes
There are also thousands of guardian foxes at Fushimi Inari, at the many sub-shrines. These foxes aren’t from there, but they’re too cool to not include. (They’re actually at a little tiny shrine across from a Denny’s restaurant, of all things, in a Tokyo suburb.)
Guardian foxes


glvalentine

2008-01-01 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

The foxes are amazing, and you look pretty calm for someone being attacked by deer. Did you make it out in one piece? ;)

kate_nepveu

2008-01-01 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Just barely! The heavy levels of tourism in Japan definitely give a lot of the "wildlife" Expectations.

glvalentine

2008-01-02 02:29 am (UTC) (Link)

I'm glad you made it out, at least.

And did you get the grand tour of all the Nijo Jinya trap goodness, or were they just like, "Don't open the bottom drawer! No, seriously."

kate_nepveu

2008-01-02 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh, grand tour, with many demonstrations and descriptions; just no pictures. It was very cool.

Quelle photo sublime !

(Anonymous)

2008-07-21 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Bonjour,
Je suis sur un projet d'autoédition d'un livre ayant pour cadre le japon de l'époque azuchi momoyama. Je me charge notamment de la charte graphique et parfois de quelques illustrations : votre photo m'inspire, voyez-vous un inconvénients à ce que j'utilise ce cadrage pour un dessin d'inspiration directe ? Bien entendu, dès que le livre sera édité (sept 2009) je me ferai un plaisir de vous fournir l'ima

Re: Quelle photo sublime !

(Anonymous)

2008-07-21 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

dsl, raccourci clavier imprévu : la suite de mon post !
(...) de vous fournir l'image de mon desssin en résolution je l'espère aussi bonne!
pour correspondance : lee--anne(at)wanadoo.fr,
bien entendu, comme je ne peux déjà pas rémunérer mes dessinateurs réellements expérimentés (contrairement à moi !), je ne peux me permettre de vous verser quelque salaire, par contre, je citerai sous réserve de votre acceptation, votre nom, c'est bien mince je vous l'accorde

note : à vrai dire, je pensais vaguement me lancer sur la pagode dans son intégralité, mais ce détail est bien plus amusant à reproduire !

très cordialement
lee--anne

Re: Quelle photo sublime !

(Anonymous)

2008-07-21 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

try it in english:
I wanna use your photo for drawing as an illustration of a book I'm writing and publishing by my one (that's to say without any editorial help and sponsoring, only with the future nice bank who will allowed us to print thanks to the money they will "give")
the only thing I could do in exchange is to write your name as the photographer who gave me the idea to draw this paint... and to give you for internet the image of the drawing, in .jpg the most quality possible (but not so much that yours !!!)
to write to me : lee--anne(at)wanadoo.fr
in France

Hello

(Anonymous)

2008-08-18 11:32 am (UTC) (Link)

I'm new here, just wanted to say hello and introduce myself.

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