Friday, December 9, 2011

Temple Two For One: Kyoto City (Again)

Went to Kyoto last weekend, to get my fourth and fifth temple stamps, and also to visit "Mickie," and to get out of good old Shiso for a little bit. It turned out to be a pretty wonderful weekend overall. Mickie and I discovered yuzu white choco bagels in the bakery under her apartment (she has a wonderful apartment! ... check her out at shisopretty). We had dinner with Nami and Hiroshi. We walked with Lauren and Jimmy along streets lines with trees in their full autumn fire. This was almost by mistake, as it wasn't planned to be a fall foliage trip (though it was a lot more fun than last year's fall foliage Kyoto trip I took). Mickie also took me to Heian Shrine, and we went through the garden.
Heian Shrine garden
My camera was broken and in the shop for that weekend as well, but I discovered that my phone takes pretty decent pictures, so I got a few on there. I also managed to get a lot of Jimmy's photos.

The two temples I was able to visit on this trip were completely different places, and it's pretty amazing that they are so close together on the list and in the city.

The first was number 16, Kiyomizudera. One of the biggest and most famous temples in Japan, a must-see of Kyoto, and destination of countless tourists (both Japanese and international). Kiyomizu was having a nighttime light-up of the fall color; normally you can't get in after about 5pm, but for this event you could. It's great to see Kyoto from the Kiyomizu stage at night, with its lights below.

I wasn't even sure if the pilgrim stamp window would be open, but it didn't bother me too much to think it might not be.. Kiyomizu is another temple I've been to several times and will probably visit again. It's always beautiful, and always crowded, also. I daydream of going on a regular weekday, one day, when I don't have a job anymore.

Needless to say, the evening was full of people, and I did manage to get my seal somewhere in the mix. The lady at the window was surprised to see that I was actually in line for the right thing (I can recognize the kanji for the pilgrim stuff.. which is a good thing, because it's not well marked in English). We sort of pushed our way through, enjoyed the awesomeness of the beauty of the place and its incredible leaves (it's gorgeous), and then escaped back into the city in time for a late dinner with Nami.

Last time I was at this temple, I went through the pitch dark tunnel and drank from the spring that gives the place its name, but there are still a lot of little things around the grounds I haven't visited or tried yet, so I hope to next time I go up there.

The second temple that was visited the following day could not have been more different. As it was less overwhelming, I have more distinct memories attached to it. This was Kodo, temple 19 of the pilgrimage, the only one on the route run exclusively by nuns.

There's a small shrine to creative arts in the corner of the grounds, and this temple also is home to one of the shrines to Seven Lucky Gods (those 'seven dwarf' like creatures we see a lot). There were two old ladies in the front desk booth area, one with smart old-lady lipstick. As surprised as the lady at Kiyomizu was that I was in the right line, the lady here was shocked that I could understand her instructions on how to light my incense sticks.

All in all, the weekend was a beautiful gift!


  1. Gorgeous, as always! Thank you.

  2. Again, magic. I feel so drawn to these temples the way you describe them, and I know the pictures don't even begin to do them justice. Japan is definitely on my list of places to visit someday...hopefully. :)

  3. Thanks guys! I'll try to keep them comin! :)