Monday, October 19, 2009

Kyoto - day 2



...our second full day in Kyoto has been as grand as the first. Began our morning early - waking up with the sun and getting to Kiyamizu-dera temple before almost anyone else. It was empty - perhaps the most popular site in Kyoto. Walked the love stone walk, just caught the edge of it to the delight of a horde of Japanese school children who cheered my victory. Saw a rabbit - rabbits everywhere, or perhaps I am just better able to see them this time around. Rabbits on the brain. Drank from the healing waters below the temple and filled our bottles for the day.

A walk through old cobblestone streets lined with old wooden houses, and saw 5 geisha girls - the real deal, not the weekenders: full face paint and garb, hair done perfectly. They were on their way somewhere important, but after the batteries in the camera ran out, mom and dad staked-out a corner and I ran like a man on my own mission, keeping a giant pagoda in my sites for a point of reference and trying to find a store that sold batteries amid all of the stores that sold the finest finery. Where is a Family Mart when you need it? Got the batteries just in time. Looking forward to posting photos here.

Last year, saw a giant Buddha on a hill, but that was one stop too many, so we didn't make it. The three of us decided to go all the way this time and were rewarded with a moving experience. The shrine is dedicated to all soldiers who died in Japanese related conflict in World War II. The Memorial Hall contains sand, soil, and drawers full of names of the dead from all of the countries that were affected by Japanese colonial oppression leading up to and including the war. The flags are faded and the bottles of soil have lost their shine and clarity through the years, but it is a moving site. Close to the hall is a series of shelters housing thousands of small Buddhas representing the Japanese who lost their lives in the conflict. Like Hiroshima, there is a very respectful level of atonement at these places. It is humbling to see.

From there, lunch at a noodle house and then to Chionin Temple, maybe my favourite in Kyoto - huge, nightingale floors to warn of intruders, massive inner temple where monks were chanting and praying, incense everywhere. Relaxing and peaceful. Another good day.

I could make a long, long list of the things that mom and dad cannot get over, but today I will add this: they cant get over the size of the main gate of Chionin. Truly, an impressive sight. Philosophers walk tonight, and then to our new guesthouse tomorrow. Things are going as planned. It is nice to know that a trip you have though about for so long, can be filled with so many perfect little moments. We are fortunate folk, but we wish others close to us could be here to see the things we are seeing. Today, in particular, I really miss my sister. Wish you were here, Sandy - erase the cliche of that postcard phrase and you have the truth. I really wish you were here, Spankylosaurus.

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