Saturday, July 27, 2013

Japan #3: Kyoto by Bike. At the Heian Temple at Sundown

Kyoto has hundreds of Buddhist and Shinto shrines and they are among the great treasures of the world.  But they are spread out from hell to breakfast and while I walked and used the bus and subway system to visit a few of them in my first two days there, it is very hot in Kyoto and I became a bit frustrated and “templed out,” as one travel writer put it.

So I rented a bike from the hostel, all day and well into the night for $5.  A few blocks away I got on the greenbelt along the river and took off through the riverside neighborhoods, into a market and, at day’s end, happened upon the glorious Heian Temple. 

Several shallow canals run through the city...

A children's slide, Japanese park style...

A street in Gion, the long time entertainment zone and geisha enclave in times past.

I’ll spare you pictures of the fish and vegetables which are sold from the 126 shops in the covered market.  These were mostly foods processed in some way, the freshest vegetables being in an unheralded spot nearby.  I did find that you can buy candy in the form of rocks or legos.

And others that look like a button and beads kit...


I ran into martial arts contestants ….

saw a remarkable number of women in traditional attire…

and walked through the beautiful trees in the Imperial Palace Park.

At a neighborhood temple I started seeing objects in this beautiful orange.

These are prayer requests, I think, on wooden cards and strips of paper.

Then I came upon this same color at the modern art museum.

 Finally I found out where the color apparently comes from.  As the sun was going down I came upon the Heian Shrine.

The many buildings of the shrine were only built in l885, to commemorate the 1,100 anniversary of Kyoto becoming Japan’s capital.  The buildings are smaller replicas of the first imperial palace completed in 794.  Most of the temples in Japan and Korea have burned or been destroyed once or more and been rebuilt, so this is not unusual. 
 The entry gate...
the entry gate seen with the sunken garden of a university library.

Attendants wear the shrine colors.

I do not know the history or meaning of the color orange but it is unusually warm and joyful. 

I turned in for the night satisfied with having salvaged a good feeling about Kyoto thanks to a bicycle (and despite blowing a tire and having to limp home).   Orange bridge, my red bicycle. 

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