"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." Martin Buber
At the end of June I'm off again, for three weeks at a university in South Korea and a visit to Kyoto, Japan, then in August we will be in Guatemala looking at one of the world's greatest challenges: how to grow a lot of food sustainably on small farms. Come along!
Friday, July 26, 2013
Japan #1: The 800 Year Old Men
million people visit Kyoto every year, according to the city.That’s 15 times more than visit
Yellowstone.Almost all are Japanese but
100,000 are American. So you probably know
someone who’s been there , you’ve have been there yourself, or know a fair amount about its
history and temples.It is one of the
world’s iconic places.
So it seems presumptuous
for me to add anything more to billions of words and images that come out of
Kyoto each year.You don’t need to see
another temple, such as this one, just because I got there and you didn’t.
know about white stone gardens and don’t need another one from me.
I could not
show you anything unexpected that hints at what is here, which is splendid with
simplicity, that you don't already know.
You don't need to see a sculpture outside the Kyoto Museum just because it's color is the same as the nearby Heien Temple.
nearby city of Nara—which was the capital of Japan for less than a century
around 750—on my first day I didn't even take a camera.So I
have no picture of the world’s largest wooden building or of the Buddha 30
meters high or of the two fierce warriors guarding his temple who are 15 meters
high. In fact, pictures are forbidden in
many of the buildings.
But I'd like you to meet four 800 year old men—two holy men, one warrior and one impish servant—who reside
in the museum of the ancient seven-story pagoda.They are preserved in wood and bear evidence
of their age.The only way I could
introduce them is by taking pictures from a souvenir
book with my I-phone. I hope to substitute
better images later but I'd like you to meet them now. With apologies for quality:
The book I’m
lifting them from is in Japanese but I believe they were carved in 1012, making them actually 900 years old. A half dozen others holy men sit with these, each with
different expressions, all the same size and seemingly by the same carver, who surely must have been a wise man himself.
the Buddha are less approachable.The Buddha may have a slight smile but he is ineffable and, it
seems, removed.Certainly a Buddha who
is 30 meters tall.
these men. Are they not as human and as alive
as if living today?
like to introduce a young woman who has three faces and three sets of arms.I hope
to add a credible picture of the full statue, which is in bronze and, I think,
of an earlier era. Here is one of her faces.
These are my
favorite images from four days in Japan.