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Showing posts from October, 2012

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

West Gate and Three Storied Pagoda
Kiyomizu-dera has one of the most enviable locations in Kyoto. Set in the wooded hills of eastern Kyoto, it has a commanding view of the city that was once the capital of Japan.  Kiyomizu-dera or the Pure Water Temple has been around since 778. It was named after the Otowa waterfall which flows down from a spring in the mountain above the hills. It is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Kita Hosso sect. 
Kiyomizu Stage
The Hondo or Main Hall was built in 1633. It has an impressive veranda known as the Kiyomizu Stage. It hangs 13 meters above the hillside and is supported by wooden pillars which were assembled without using a single nail. It is held together by wooden braces. The floor of the stage is made of cypress boards. The Hondo is considered a national treasure and is a Unesco World Cultural Heritage site.
The pillars supporting the stage
It's a quite a climb up the hill to the temple halls but there are several spots to stop and rest along…

Higashi Honganji - Kyoto

"Now, Life is living you"
I was struck by this message on the wall surrounding the Higashi Honganji mother temple. "Now, Life is living you".  I believe we should live life. Not the other way around. Perhaps this is a wake up call.  The Shakyamuni Buddha taught a path to self awakening. "Through this, one is able to become aware of the futility and suffering caused by one's actions and eventually come to truly appreciate life as it is." (from Higashi Honganji - The Teaching of Jodo Shin-shu) 
A door leading to the Goeidō
When Kennyo the 11th  Monshu (Chief Priest) of the Jodo Shin-shu sect passed away in 1592, he named his third son, Junnyo, his successor. This created a conflict between Junnyo and Kyōnyo, the eldest son. Hideyoshi who arbitrated in this dispute of succession asked Kyōnyo to step down. In 1602, Kyōnyo, received land from the shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. There he built his own temple. Honganji was thus divided into two branches. Higashi (…

Nishi Honganji Temple

The Altar
The Nishi Honganji (or West Honganji) is the main temple of the Hongwanji-ha denomination of Jodo Shin-shu Buddhism in Japan. Shinran Sonin founded the Jodo Shin-shu (True Pure Land) sect during the mid Kamakura period and it became one of the largest and most influential schools in succeeding centuries. Over time, the Jodo Shin-shu sect was challenged by both interminable wars and warlords who were bent on controlling the country.  Oda Nobunaga, a military leader, finally succeeded with the help of Emperor Ogimachi in moving the group out of Kyoto in order to diminish its power. Later, in the 17th century, the sect was divided into two factions, effectively weakening its political influence. The Nishi Honganji faction are followers of Junnyo, the third son and successor of Kennyo, the 11th Monshu (spiritual leader) and descendant of Shinran. To this day, the Jodo Shin-shu sect has kept its large following intact. It is the largest of any sect in Japan. 


The Goeidō Hall (l…

Ryōan-ji Temple

"When the mind is at peace, the world too is at peace".  P'ang Yun  The Rock Garden
The Ryoan-ji Temple was once the country estate of the Tokudaiji Clan. In 1450 it was bought by Hosokawa Katsumoto who converted it into a Zen training temple. Neither the origin nor the meaning of the rock garden is definitively known though according to the brochure, Tokuho Zenketsu, a Zen monk, may have created it around 1500. The rectangular garden has 15 rocks (both large and small) sitting on moss and look like islets amidst white gravel. It can be viewed from the portico of the Hojo which was the former residence of the head priest. There are stairs leading down to the stone garden where you can sit awhile and meditate on the significance of this creation. But at midday the intimate portico becomes too crowded and meditating or taking an unobstructed photo may present a challenge.
Tatami room
The Hojo has several tatami rooms divided by sliding doors called fusuma. These doors a…

Kyoto

I have been dreaming of going to Kyoto since I read Arthur Golden's "Memoirs of a Geisha" many moons ago. This dream was fortified when I watched the movie version and was enthralled by the characterization and haunting scenery. After years of planning, I finally had the chance to visit Kyoto last September. I approached a "Kyoto travel expert" before leaving and asked him to recommend three temples I should visit on my first trip to this city. These were his recommendations: Kinkakuji, Kiyomizu-dera and Ryōanji . To this list I added Gion, Kyoto's famous geiko district. I had a lot on my plate with only two and a half days to spare. I thought I shoud take a bus tour so I could maximize my time. The guided tours though were quite expensive and after my introductory walk to Terramachi, I found Kyoto easy to navigate on foot and discovered that several buses stopped at most of the temples I wanted to visit.

So here's what I managed to see during my stay i…

Sunset

Just went out in time to see the sky ablaze in glory. Rushed back in to get my IPad and caught the last rays of the sun. What luck!

"When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator".  Mahatma Gandhi

Amen.

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Image by Charie

To travel is to

I found this quote on the Gadling Facebook status and I wanted to share it with all of you who love to travel. This quote originated from Afar magazine's "fill in the blank" post on Facebook. Yes, to travel is to grow.

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Space Shuttle Endeavour

What a thrill it was for all of us who witnessed the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour riding piggyback on a jumbo jet 747 as it soared above Bay Area skies on its way to its retirement home in Los Angeles! We had a great view of the Endeavour accompanied by two jet bombers and with our smartphones, took photos of this once in a lifetime spectacle. After 25 space missions from 1992 to 2011, the Endeavour will be parked in the California Science Center where it will be on permanent display starting on October 30, 2012.

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037
Phone: (323) SCIENCE
(323) 724-3623
http://www.californiasciencecenter.org/MainPage.php

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Image by Charie