Kyoto


Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery Cavalier in action

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery Cavalier in action

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Yabusame Photo Interlude

Photos by Sandra D’Sylva and Denis Plamondon

Japanese traditional horseback martial arts are still very much alive and well organized. Check the following all year round schedule to see where and when you can watch these performances. Today, we propose a photo report of one of these events that occurred in the forest of  Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto. These photos were taken on May 3rd, 2008.

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Cavaliers at the Yabusame Contest in Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto

Cavaliers at the Yabusame Contest in Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto

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Musicians at the Shimogamo Shrine Yasubane Contest, in Kyoto

Musicians at the Shimogamo Shrine Yabusame Contest, in Kyoto

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Yabusane Organizers dressed in traditionnal costume, Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto

Yabusame Organizers dressed in traditional costume, Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto

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Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery practice

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Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery under a Gate

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Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery Arrows transfert

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery Arrows transfer

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Yabusame Shimgamo Shrine in kyoto Archery

Yabusame Shimgamo Shrine in Kyoto Archery

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Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery fully extended horse legs

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Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery

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Reflexion of spectators in a glass Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine

Reflexive glass of Yabusame spectators at Shimogamo Shrine

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Excursion sacrée entre Kurama et Kibune

Par Denis Plamondon
Photos par Sandra D’Sylva et Denis Plamondon
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Se perdre dans la nature au dessus de Kurama

Se perdre dans la nature au dessus de Kurama

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Si vous voulez profiter au maximum de votre séjour à Kyoto(京都), l’exploration de ses environs pourraît consolider la fabuleuse expérience que l’on attend d’une visite dans la capitale de 1000 ans. À part l’incontournable préfecture de Nara (奈良), reconnue pour  ses célèbres temples Tōdaiji (東大寺) et Hōryū-ji (法 隆寺), trésors de l’humanité qu’ il ne faut surtout pas ignorer, la ville de Kyoto est entourée de plusieurs destinations faciles d’accès. De telles visites vous procureront d’enrichissantes découvertes. La ville de Uji (宇治) cache l’un des plus beaux temples bouddhistes du Japon: le Byodo-In (平等 ). L’éloge lui vient de la finesse de son architecture et de l’élégance de ses formes. Profitez de ce périple pour visiter une fabrique de thé et goutez à la délicatesse du Macha. À la nuit tombée, vous pouvez aussi embarquer sur l’un des bateaux qui partent à la pêche au cormoran munis d’une perche à laquelle on suspend une cage de feu afin de naviguer dans la nuit. À l’ouest de Kyoto, se trouve la petite ville d’Arashiyama (嵐山)et une multitude de temples éparpillés dans une forêt de bamboo. Au nord, le village de Ohara (大原)vous permettra de découvrir le temple Sanzen-In (三千院)et son impressionnant jardin. Mais le secret demeure une petite course en montagne entre Kurama (鞍馬) et Kibune(貴船)

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Randonnée Kurama-Kibune:

Niô-mon, la porte des gardiens

Niô-mon, la porte des gardiens

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Je vous propose aujourd’hui une randonnée dans la montagne de Kurama qui se trouve à peine à 12 kilomètres au nord de Kyoto. La compagnie de chemin de fer Eisan opère un petit train à trois wagons qui part de la gare de Demachi-Yanagi et termine son trajet à Kurama-Yama, 30 minutes plus tard. Le village, célèbre aussi pour son festival du feu (鞍馬の火祭り) le 22 octobre, – voir l’article sur le Festival de Feu de Kurama – est encastré au fond d’une gorge que traverse la rivière Kurama-Gawa (鞍馬川). Au retour de votre promenade en forêt, suivez la route qui longe le cours d’eau et profitez de l’un de ses onsen(温泉). Il n’y a rien de plus charmant que de relaxer dans un bain thermal en plein air tout en admirant les arbres célestes qui se dressent dans le flan de la montagne, surtout après les efforts de la marche.

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Les moines au départ de la randonnée

Les moines au départ de la randonnée

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Dès que vous sortez de la gare à Kurama, vous vous engagerez dans les escaliers qui vous mènent à la Porte des Gardiens (Niô-mon) 「二王門」. La structure est imposante. Une fois affranchis de votre contribution de quelques centaines de yen, vous emprunterez une longue suite d’escaliers, de sentiers, de ponts et croiserez une multitude de petits hôtels shintos, de temples bouddhistes et des statuts de toutes dimensions. Le chemin zigzague dans la montagne et la nature vous réserve un accueil surprenant avec ses arômes, sa fraîcheur, ses ombres et la curiosité de ses formes. L’aménagement forestier respecte à la lettre l’esthétique japonais: Atteindre l’harmonie tout en évitant de niveler jusqu’à la perfection! Cette randonnée vous donnera en outre l’occasion d’observer d’étranges manifestations de la nature. Entre-autre, l’imposante stature de plusieurs de ses arbres donne à la forêt ses lettres de noblesse.

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Les charmes de la montée entre Kurama et Kibune

Les charmes de la montée entre Kurama et Kibune

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Taille impressionnate des arbres entre Kurama et Kibune

Taille impressionnate des arbres entre Kurama et Kibune

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L'eau de la purification près du Temple de Kurama

L'eau de la purification près du Temple de Kurama

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Le temple Kurama 「Honden-kondô」 (本殿金堂), situé à mi-chemin du sommet de la montagne, fut fondé en 770 suite à l’illumination de son fondateur, le moine Gantei – (Voir information complète ). La montagne sacrée préserve les trois symboles de l’âme universelle, soient le pouvoir, la lumière et l’amour. Tous les cultes visent à vénérer la manifestation de ces trois éléments dont la Trinité représente la divinité suprême : Sonten (尊天). La Trinité de Sonten se traduit aussi par les concepts suivants:  L’âme de la vie, l’âme suprême de l’univers et l’activité de l’âme. Après 1239 ans d’histoire, on ne s’étonne plus de trouver autant de reliques du passé religieux à cet endroit alors que la dimension sacrée du lieu explique l’aspect intact de sa nature.

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La montée entre les temples de Kurama à Kibune

La montée entre les temples de Kurama à Kibune

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Plus on monte, plus le panorama s’ouvre jusqu’à ce que l’on atteigne le Honden Kondô. Sa terrasse alors offre un spectacle magnifique sur la vallée. L’originalité des objets religieux vaut le déplacement.

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Le pavillon adjaçant avec ses espaces ouverts près du temple kurama

Le pavillon adjaçant avec ses espaces ouverts près du temple kurama

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Le cône de pierres fines près du temple Kurama

Le cône de pierres fines près du temple Kurama

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Si vous ne voulez pas marcher cette longue partie sinueuse, une autre option s’ouvre à vous. Grâce au funiculaire situé à la base, près de la Porte des Gardiens, il est possible d’accéder directement à la Pagode Tahô-tô (多宝塔)quelques mètres à peine au dessous du temple de Kurama. Un peu plus haut, vous pouvez vous arrêter un moment au musée dont la collection est voué à l’environnement. Il existe même un étage contenant des reliques au fort contenu historique pour Kurama.

Que ce soit les racines qui s’étalent au dessus du sol, les temples au bois naturel comme le Sôjo ga dani Fudô-dô (僧正が谷不動堂) ou Maô-Den (魔王殿) qui attireront votre regard inquisiteur ou encore la forme en lambeaux de l’écorce des arbres, cette promenade dans la montagne sacrée ne vous laissera guère indifférent.

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Une pause près d'un lieu sacré: le Sôjô ga dani Fudô-dô

Une pause près d'un lieu sacré: le Sôjô ga dani Fudô-dô

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Lieu de culte en montagne: Maô-den

Lieu de culte en montagne: Maô-den

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Racines en surface Randonnée Kurama-Kibune

Racines en surface Randonnée Kurama-Kibune

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Sôjô ga dani Fudô-dô

Okuno-In Maô-den

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Étrangeté de la nature. un arbre s'habille d'un châle

Étrangeté de la nature. un arbre s'habille d'un châle

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Au cours de votre descente vers Kibune, vous souhaiterez peut-être refaire le chemin inverse. Le joli village de Kibune continuera de vous épanouir par l’authenticité des ses restaurants, l’ordonnancement de ses commerces et la simplicité de ses maisons. Les piétons et les voitures qui circulent dans les deux sens se partagent l’unique rue étroite, car le village est coincé entre la petite rivière et l’autre versant de la montagne. Au cours des longs mois d’été, on installe des planchers temporaires (Yuka / 床) au dessus de la rivière afin de créer de l’espace pour des restaurants.

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Manger sur une terrace au desus de la rivière à Kibune

Manger sur une terrace au desus de la rivière à Kibune

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Profitez-en pour vous restaurez et commandez le Shabushabu (しゃぶしゃぶ), une sorte de pot au feu que l’on prépare devant vous et que vous mangerez au son de l’eau qui gicle entre les pierres de la rivière.

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Serving ShabuShabu in Kibune sr le "yuka" au sessus de la rivière

Serving ShabuShabu in Kibune sr le "yuka" au sessus de la rivière

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Si vous voulez laisser un commentaire, veillez retournez au début de cet article et cliquez le lien “Comment”. Vos impressions seront appréciées.

Une randonnée dans la beauté secrète

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Une porte qui s'ouvre sur un chemin de découvertes

Une porte qui s'ouvre sur un chemin de découvertes

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Une randonnée qui commence à la station Demachi-Yanagi sur la ligne Eisan. Le petit train monte en montagne et s’arrête à Kurama, un jolie petit village qui cache des secrets bien gardés. Il faut compter environ une heure pour se rendre jusqu’à Kibune selon le rythme de ses rencontres. Cette promenade deviendra l’un de vos plus beaux souvenirs lorsque vous l’aurez entamée.

Kyoto’s Secret: Get a Paper Lantern

Did you ever visit a temple and wonder if you could purchase the beautiful paper lantern you just saw? You ask around, try to make yourself understood, but no one can really tell you if it is possible or not. Then you say:  I should find it in a lantern shop, of course. But where do we find such a place?

If you are in Kyoto, here is a valuable secret for you. Kawashima Chochin Senmon Ten, just west of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, is a small shop where  articles such as umbrellas and paper lanterns can be found. Just walk in, browse a moment and very soon you will come across used models of lantern which come in different sizes and have a wide variety of characters on them.  It is customary to choose a style or model, specify your design requirements and return back later to get your order.  A trained artist will create the lamp or umbrella according to your specifications: desired characters, crest or images. Of course, you as a tourist can order the same way, if time and money are not an issue; it will cost you between 10,000 and 30,000 yen. But if you can’t, here’s a tip: ask the shop attendants (the lady of the shop in particular) if second hand lanterns are available. She will be happy to repair any apparent defects with wet paper and a bit of glue, and you will get a beautiful lantern for a fraction of the price with little wait! Why bring home a new article without history, when you get away with authenticity?

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Mountain Temple Lantern Style

Paper Lantern with Typical Mountain Crest

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Here is the address:

KAWASHIMA CHÔCHIN SENMON TEN

Kyoto-Shi, Kamigyo-Ku,

Kita-no-Shôbô-Mae, 602-8384

Japan

川島提灯専門店、京都市上京区北野消防署前

(北野天満宮西入)日本 602-8384

Tel/電話番号:075-462-5922

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Japanese Lanterns Produce Light as Well

By Denis Plamondon

Photos by Sandra D’Sylva & Denis Plamondon

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Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Golden lanterns under the drops of rain

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, golden lanterns under the rain

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What image pops up in your mind when someone mentions a lantern in Japan? If you pass by a yakitori restaurant and the smell of grilled meat begins to tease your senses, you might think of a red paper lamp in front? The same lantern also indicates the location of an Izakaya (Japanese bar). When hundreds are aligned in the trees along a path, you may be looking forward to joining a festival around the corner? Or the sight of another white paper lamp in a doorway could suggest that night is approaching? In fact, very few of us will think of a Japanese lantern as solely decorative.


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Stone Lantern at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto durig Ume Matsuri

Stone lantern at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto during Ume Matsuri (plum blossom festival)

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In your search of knowledge and quest for meanings while visiting Japanese temples and gardens, you will come to discover a wide variety of lamps and lanterns. Style, shape, material, color and location are aspects to consider in evaluating these beautiful objects. They are mostly made of stone (ishi-doro) and paper (chochin or bon-bori), and many adorn Japanese characters (chochin-moji). You will also find them in bronze, metal, wood and a combination of materials. According to its locality, a paper lantern will also bear a particular crest – indicating a mountain temple for example.

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Magnificient Bronze Lanterns at the Sacred Taiyuin Temple in Nikko

Magnificent bronze lanterns at the Sacred Taiyuin Temple in Nikko

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Lamps and Lanterns in Japan Have a Long History

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The origin of the lantern is attributed to China and was introduced to Japan by Korean monks in the 6th century along with Buddhism. There are many questions as to why Buddhism, a religion with no god, was so rapidly adopted by the Japanese whose animist religion (Shintoïsm) depicts many gods. Buddhism was able to give answers as to what to do when a person is deceased. The recitation of sutras and the ‘enlightening of souls’, symbolized by lanterns, gave the Japanese another understanding of the spirits they fear so intensively.

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Wooden lanterns on the way to the Shrine in the beautiful village of Kibune, near Kyoto

Wooden lanterns on the way to a shrine in the beautiful village of Kibune, northern mountains of Kyoto

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Lanterns attached to a Cart during Gion Matsuri in Kyoto

Lanterns attached to a float during Gion Matsuri in Kyoto

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For a very long time, lanterns were only seen at temples as a part of ceremonies, with the intention of illuminating souls. In this manner, offering light is a spiritual gesture and carries profound meaning while transcending the physical notion of light per se. During the long history of Japanese Buddhism, giving a lantern to a temple was a recurrent and popular gesture among warlords and daimyos. Some authors and historians have suggested that they did so due to fear that the spirits of victims they’d killed would return; thus, a stone lantern was a good insurance policy to calm the anger of evil spirits, which could be reminiscent of a strange fusion between Shinto and Buddhist practices and beliefs (I will post an article on this matter later.) Whatever may have been their intentions, warlords have donated a phenomenal quantity of stone and bronze lanterns to temples and shrines all over Japan. Consequently, it has given many artists a chance for expression and communication of an important heritage to younger generations.

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Bronze Lanterns in Nigatsu-Do in the Todai-Ji Complex in Nara

Bronze lanterns in Nigatsu-Do in the Todai-Ji Complex in Nara

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Stone lanterns at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto during Ume Festival

Stone lanterns at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto during Ume Festival

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During the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600), a famous great tea master, Sen-no-Rikyu, started to assimilate stone lanterns in gardens as a way to “provide illumination for an evening tea ceremony”. This new direction was decisive and one can still see these vestiges very much sculptured in the overall landscape surrounding temples. Nowadays, stone lanterns are part of the Japanese garden design and well integrated among other features; in such an environment, their functionality is purely aesthetic. The perception of their beauty gives “light”. Conversely, lanterns and paper lamps in temples and shrines are still lit with actual fire or electricity. There are numerous festivals across Japan where visitors are invited at dusk to enjoy the splendor of their illumination. The Obon Matsuri is one of them (Visit the beautiful photo album of Gino T. Manalastas). Furthermore, in the surroundings of Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara, more than 2000 stone lanterns are lit twice a year (February and August).

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Stone Lantern in Katsura Garden, Imperial Villa near Kyoto

Stone lantern in Katsura Garden, Imperial Villa near Kyoto

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Stone lantern perfectly integrated in the garden of Manshu-In, Kyoto

Stone lantern perfectly integrated in the garden of Manshu-In, Kyoto

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Stone Lantern in Shugaku-In, Imperial Villa in Kyoto

Stone lantern in Shugaku-In Imperial Villa in Kyoto

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Huge paper lantern in Yamashina. Stone lanterns in the lower background

Enormous paper lantern in Yamashina; bronze lanterns in the lower background

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Paper lantern in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto

Paper lantern in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto

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Golden lanterns in a mountain small temple between Kurama & Kibune, near Kyoto

Golden lanterns in a small mountain temple between Kurama & Kibune, near Kyoto

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A choregraphy of lights during Obon Matsuri on the Mount Hiei, Kyoto

A choreography of lights during Obon Matsuri on Mount Hiei, Kyoto

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To learn more about the stone lantern and especially about the  2000 units around  Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara.
To learn about the art f the Japanese gardens and the variety of stone lanterns
More on the Buddhist Gardens with this links.

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I would appreciate your comments. Click on comment link at the beginning of this article

Fusuma Doors and Art Work in Kyoto

By Denis Plamondon
Photos: Sandra D'Sylva & Denis Plamondon

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Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Marvel an Untold Story?

Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Marvel - an Untold Story?

Before we enter a temple in Japan, we take our shoes off and we open our eyes and soul all together hoping to grasp a new dimension of the human creativity. We all know about the existence of the Japanese sliding doors, but we are barely able to distinguish between the Fusuma door and the Shoji door.
When you visit old temples in Kyoto,   palaces of the imperial family or any castle of a shogun that is open to the public, the functionality of these two types of door is revealed to you in its ingenuity and its aesthetic as they both play the role of a door and a wall. In this short article, I will focus on the drawings and the paintings of the fusuma. If you want to go further on this topic, please use the links provided along the way. Here, I’m publishing two kinds of photos, and overview of fusuma art work and specific features of a temple, bridge or a detail to indicate the location.
The first places you could find these incredible “chef-d’oeuvres” are the facilities that come under the management of the Imperial Palace Household Agency, such as The Kyoto Imperial Palace, the impressive Shugaku-In Imperial Villa and Katsura Imperial Villa . If you want to visit these locations, bear in mind that you must get a reservation before entering. Click on this link to get the information. There are also beautiful works of art at the Tenryu-Ji (1) (2) in Arashiyama; the gardens and temples of Chishaku-In (2) are worth a detour, and Yamashina temple are surprises you can’t miss. I have not published photos on the beautiful fusuma doors in the Nijo Castle (shogun), the Ryoan-Ji rock garden and the famous Nishi Hongwan-Ji temple, but they shouldn’t be missed either.  (The latter is the headquarters of all Shin Buddhist affiliated temples in Japan and in globally. The Taimensho-Stork Chamber is particularly amazing). Follow the links to Byodo-In (2) in Uji; since no photography is permitted inside the precinct, you will have to see this breathtaking temple with your own eyes. The architecture of here is a true definition of beauty. Uji is famous all over Japan for its tea products.  Why not include a visit to a “macha” factory and taste the velvet flavor of traditional green tea?

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Detail of Kyoto Imperial Palace with Outside painted Fusuma

Detail of Kyoto Imperial Palace with Outer Fusuma

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Detail of Fusuma Doors Kyoto Imperial Palace

Detail of Fusuma Doors Kyoto Imperial Palace

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A Roof from the Kyoto Imperial Palace

A Roof from the Kyoto Imperial Palace

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Bridge in the gardens of Shugaku-In Imperial Villa

Bridge in the gardens of Shugaku-In Imperial Villa

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Inside rooms Shugaku-In Imperial Villa

Inner Rooms of Shugaku-In Imperial Villa

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Wisdon painted on Fusuma Doors in Shugaku-In Imperial Villa

Wisdom Painted on Fusuma Doors in Shugaku-In Imperial Villa

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Detail Fusuma Doors in Shugaku-In Imperial Villa

Details of Fusuma Doors at Shugaku-In Imperial Villa

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Open Shoji on the Katsura Garden Imperial Villa

Open Shoji at Katsura Garden Imperial Villa

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Bridge in the Katsura Imperial Villa

Bridge at Katsura Imperial Villa

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Chishaku-In Kyoto Beautiful painting on Walls and Fusuma

Chishaku-In Kyoto - Beautiful Wall and Fusuma Paintings

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Chishaku-In Kyoto Painting on Fusuma Doors

Chishaku-In Kyoto

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Chishaku-In Kyoto, Admiring a Garden Peacefully

Chishaku-In Kyoto, Admiring a Garden Peacefully

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Drawings on Fusuma Chishaku-In Kyoto

Fusuma Drawings at Chishaku-In Kyoto

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Detail Tenryu-Ji (Heavenly Dragon Temple) Arashiyama, West of Kyoto

Details at Tenryu-Ji (Heavenly Dragon Temple) in Arashiyama, West of Kyoto

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Glass protected Art Tenryu-Ji Arashiyama

Glass-protected Art at Tenryu-Ji Arashiyama

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Inside the Tenryu-Ji facilities in Arashiyama, west of Kyoto

Inside the Tenryu-Ji Temple in Arashiyama, West of Kyoto

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Yamashina Temple East of Kyoto Drawing on Fusuma

Yamashina Temple East of Kyoto - Fusuma Drawings

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View on Garden in Yamashina Temple East Kyoto

View on Garden in Yamashina Temple, East Kyoto

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Painting on Wall Yamashina Temple East Kyoto

Wall Paintings at Yamashina Temple, East Kyoto

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Wooden Bridge In Yamashina Temple East Kyoto

Wooden Bridge at Yamashina Temple, East Kyoto

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A view of Beautiful Byodo-In in Uji near Kyoto World Heritage

A View of Beautiful Byodo-In in Uji, a World Heritage Site Just South of Kyoto

* Please Comment on this posting at the top of this article.

Kyoto’s Secrets

Coming up, a series of photos from Kyoto’s secrets.

Photos and tips will progressively be added, please visit this site once in a while.

A Traditional Umbrella Shop in Kyoto

wagasa-umbrella-transparent-white-silk-kyoto1
Umbrella-making is a refined art confined to the hands of great and very few artists. There is a small shop with a tiny little display space by one of numerous temples in Kyoto. The Wagasa umbrella shop stands proudly as the “only producer of traditional umbrellas in Kyoto” just by the Hokyo-ji Temple, in a narrow street, only meters from Horikawa Dori. When visiting Kyoto, inquire about this revealed secret. These beautiful umbrellas could cost you quite a fortune, but if you can’t afford them, don’t give up. A shop attendant will be happy to show you a good selection of these superb works of art that are discounted because of minor defects. In time of glory, they were fashionable, an accessory that would complement the traditional wear and bring pride and beauty to its owner while she, and even he, were walking along a river, in a garden or in the streets of the old capital.
Blue sky and rice stars Umbrella Kyoto

Blue sky and rice stars Umbrella Kyoto

These works of art can also give an Asian touch to your apartment without you falling into tacky decoration. Get them for a special event or open one in your office to bring new light in your workplace. If you don’t go to Kyoto, you can order on line. The following link will get you to their website and give access to a lot more information.  More on Wagasa Umbrella Shop

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Head Monk at the Chishaku-In June 15th 2008

Head Monk at the Chishaku-In June 15th 2008

*The aspect of these umbrellas varies in size, shape and colors. Here is a big red umbrella used to protect the head monk from the sun during the must see Chishaku-In Temple festival, held on June 15th. Visit the following site for great pictures and information on this temple and many others in Kyoto. Link to Chishaku-In. When Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana came to Kyoto Palace, a similar, but bigger red umbrella was used for their protection.
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Honen-In Is One of Kyoto’s Secret

Honen-In Kyoto

Honen-In Kyoto

Honen-In is definitely one of these secrets. Small is beautiful, they say. This temple and its garden are just behind the Philosopher’s Path, near Ginkaku-Ji. Get in, discover the beauty of simplicity and breath the peaceful aura of this quiet surrounding.

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