Sunday, February 25, 2007

temples & temples etc

This be Kiramizu, in Kyoto.

This be some statuary in that same place, which is a big place, with great views. (Views not caught on camera.)

This is somewhere else. Japan's biggest bell. Perhaps. No, I think it really is.

One of the two love-rocks, back at Kiramizu, with three schoolgirls giving the peace-sign. The love-rocks are twenty yards or so apart. If you can walk from one to t'other with your eyes firmly shut, then you'll be lucky in love.

That same love-rock, with a girl from the East Midlands giving the peace-sign.

I hope she forgives me for calling her a girl. This is another big bell, I forget where.

A holy waterfall. Those boxes you can see are actually a kind of shower cabinet en plein air. Not a popular shrine this, but charming. You've got to climb a lot of steps to get there. Possibly more popular in the summer, when taking a holy shower might appeal more.

The great market we went to in Kyoto, once again. Would have been nice to have all the market shots together, but you can't have everything.

Hmmm. I think this is at Matsuyama Castle.

Meiji-jingu, the massive Shinto shrine in Tokyo. The gods were being kept busy.

The gravelly grounds of the castle in Kyoto.

Ditto, with big gate.

The bit round the back of the castle in Kyoto.

team pizza

One of the many temples in Nikko.

We saw a couple of these. They are, I think, Zen memorials in memory of the most Zen.

The old trick of writing down your troubles on a fish and dissolving it - along with said troubles - in holy water. Em hasn't looked back.

The holy rabbit, doing a spot of fishing.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

people 2

An international celebration of tea.

Good, gloopy macha, with a sesame sweet.

Emma learns the way of the whisk. She is careful to respect the utensils.

Spot the Buddha on the horizon.

You might think you've seen this one already. You'd be wrong.

Tourism fatigue.


Tree worship.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I didn't realise I'd taken so many photos of Ishite-ji, the temple complex we visited in Matsuyama (the one on the pilgrimage route mentioned in an earlier post). This one, however, is not Ishite-ji, but of something we happened upon en route.

It wasn't entirely clear to us what this gathering of statuary was all about. We briefly - and naively - thought it might be Ishite-ji itself.

It was certainly dilapidated.

When we got to the real Ishite-ji, people were just beginning to arrive. A guy from New Zealand at the hostel recommended that we go as early as possible, before the tour buses show up.

Guaranteed to wake the gods.

Buddhas in their bibs.

Em lit a candle. She's very hands-on, when it comes to temple tourism.

Reminiscent of a millstone.

The Ishite-ji pagoda.

Evidently the big stack of pine branches were going to be burnt later in the day. There were photos of last year's burning.

We were having a peek behind one of the buildings when suddenly a tour group enveloped us. The guide opened a door that was literally set in the mountainside & everyone began to file in. I would have stayed put, but I was glad that Em insisted that we tag on to the end. I had visions of the guide delivering a detailed speech in the bowels of the hill. Happily they didn't come to pass. We marched along a dark corridor lined with barely visible statues and pictures for about five minutes, if that, and then emerged in a different part of Ishite-ji.

Monday, February 19, 2007


On Shikoku there are 88 temples that you can visit in the course of a mammoth pilgrimage, picking up a stamp at each one. On foot, it's a considerable investment of time. Our hostel was a mile or so from one of these temples & on the day we left Matsuyama we went and had a look at it a visit directly after breakfast. I don't think any photos of the temple itself have gone up yet (they will!) - in the meantime, you can admire this enormous Buddha (bigger than he looks) keeping an eye on things from his vantage-point atop the hillside.

I like this photo a lot, if I do say so myself. It's Matsuyama again. The hostel, which we made quite a meal of finding, was up on a hill in Dogo, where the onsen is. Dogo is right on the edge of Matsuyama and this view looks back towards the city. In the distance you can just make out Matsuyama castle, on its hill.

The 'A-Bomb Dome' in Hiroshima. The frame of this building - I think it was a bank - survived because it was directly beneath the epicentre of the blast. It's been kept as a memorial.

Kyoto, as seen from one its many temples, nestled in the hills to the east of the city.

You'll perhaps need quite a generous definition of postcard for this last one. Look carefully and you might be able to see some people playing tennis in Matsuyama.

miscellaneous 2

Baseball is really big in Japan. They've been playing it since the 1880s.

I was sorely tempted by these, but it would have been hard to get them home in one piece. (This and the above photo are of the same market in Kyoto where Emma is seen somewhere below buying a turquoise housecoat.)

This clocktower in Matsuyama is a relatively recent addition to the city. Every hour it celebrates the novella Bochan by Natsume Soseki (set in Matsuyama, and rather down on the place) with moving parts and music.

Here is the clock moments before it burst into life. The guy with the yellow jersey is a very excited tour-guide.

Matsuyama again. An extraordinary collection of stuff arranged on the Youth Hostel reception desk.

I was trying to capture exotic vegetables.

The Ryokan Hiraiwa in Kyoto in darkness. We stayed there two nights.

Our room at Hiraiwa.

Diagonal zebra-crossing! And part of Kyoto station.

Lawson rides again! In Takayama, I think.

Walking the Path of Philosophy, Kyoto.