Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Toji Temple, Kyoto, Kyoto sightseeing
This, Toji temple, is the biggest pagoda in Kyoto and has been one of the landmarks there.

The farther it is seen from, the more prominent it feels as a landmark.

This magnificent silhouette is definitely one of gems in Kyoto.
Location by Google Map

Monday, October 30, 2006

One-two-three pebbles

Shugakuin Imperial Villa, Kyoto, Kyoto sightseeing
Shugakuin Imperial Villa, Kyoto, Kyoto sightseeing
These are called hifumi-ishi, one-two-three pebbles. Some of these red and blue pebbles were put together in three, or others in one or two.

These are, on the whole, regularly put on but irregularly in detail. The mixture of regularity and irregularity is what we call sou(草), one of three styles in Japanese aesthetic.
Location by Google Map


Gion area, Kyoto, Kyoto sightseeing
This is an Japanese restaurant, providing Okonomi-yaki, Japanese pizza, in Kyoto. The house is neatly made of wood.

By the way, do you happen to know Okonomi-yaki?

I think that it is much better to go to Osaka or Hiroshima to enjoy this food. Most of Okonomi-yaki shops in Tokyo are not so good;-) (Though some in Tokyo are tasty.)
Location by Google Map

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Quiet moment early in the morning

Ginkakuji Temple, Kyoto, Kyoto sightseeing
A slice of long stone connects paths over the pond.

By the way, this was shooted last winter. Water in winter is usually more clear than the one in other seasons. The water can reflect the scenery around it like a mirror and can make the unique scenery.

Winter early in the morning is probably best, I would think, for visiting temples with pond because of the mirrored pond. Plus, in winter of early morning, less travelers go to such temples and it is very quiet with fresh and crispy air, quite unlike the high season of cherry trees and autumn leaves. Personally, I like that moment.
Location by Google Map

Friday, October 27, 2006

A little path

Shisendo Temple, Kyoto, Kyoto sightseeing
This narrow path is fenced with bamboos and stones, on the top of these are some plants. Nice sunlight draws you forward.

This is one of my favorite paths.
Location by Google Map

Thursday, October 26, 2006

water for washing one's hands

Shisendo Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
This is installed by toilets of temples in Kyoto and people are to wash their hands there.

To wash their hands each, people full a large wooden spoon, called hisyaku, with water.

This water, I suppose, is spring water and is flowing all the time.
Location by Google Map

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A decoration on the entrance

Gion area, Kyoto sightseeing
Gion area, Kyoto sightseeing
This decoration is hang on the entrance of some of houses in Kyoto.

This is called Chimaki, perhaps made from straws and can keep bad lucks away from a house.

But I don't see this kind of decoration in Tokyo.

Tokyo and Kyoto have some different habits though both are in Japan.
Location by Google Map

a tea house in Kyoto: Taian tea house

Taian teahouse, Kyoto sightseeing
Taian teahouse, Kyoto sightseeing
Taian teahouse, Kyoto sightseeing
A: A space for displaying calligraphy or flower with a vase, called Tokonoma
B: Window
C: Entrance for a host
D: Entrance for a guest
E: A space for boiling water

Sorry for not being photo!!

These three are my old pencil drawings of a tea house: Two are the inside and the last one is the outside.

A tea house is called Taian with only two tatami mats in area, and with just about 1.8 meters cubic. Inside it used to sit two people, a host and a guest, for having a tea ceremony.

This is made by Senno Rikyu, one of greatest founders of a tea ceremony. I think this is the most excellent tea house in Japan.

Anyway, why is this house so small?

Because he would like to make a very very simple and minimum house with less decorations to concentrate on tea ceremony and he regarded tea ceremony as a kind of Zen training.

This is tiny house but doesn't feel so much little. A person in the house feel as if he were comfortably surrounded by the natural surroundings. The windows are covered with thin paper and the light through the papers of the little windows let him know even the slight change of the natural surrounding very clearly. Plus, he is surrounded by the wall, the rough and natural texture of earth. He in the house would feel very comfortable because of the light and wall.
Location by Google Map

Monday, October 23, 2006

ordinary scenery in Kyoto

Kozanji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
The mixture of stream singing and maple leaves shading early in the morning.

They make people feel relaxed:-)
Location by Google Map

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Modest green 2

Kotoin Temple, Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
This is shot from another angle of the garden

I would feel better if I can take a nap on this veranda, exposure to modest sunlight through trees:-)
Location by Google Map

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A flower in a town

In the middle of Kyoto, Kyoto sightseeing
I found this flower in front of a house in the middle of Kyoto.

I don't know the name though this flower is rather familiar to us.

Have a nice week:-)
Location by Google Map

Sudare: Barred lattice of bamboo

Ninnaji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
This is called Sudare, barred lattice of bamboo, and used in a traditional house in Kyoto. This is just like a blind and has three purposes.

First, this can shut out the ray of sunlight into a house but allow the breeze into it. Kyoto is rather helpful in the hot and humid season.

Secondly, this can also shut out the eyes from the outside. Hanging on it at the opening, people outside cannot see anything inside because the outside is brighter than the inside.

Thirdly, this can hide unnecessary scenery outside from people doing tea ceremony inside. While doing tea ceremony, people can enjoy the scenery within this kind of opening as a picture. Hosts hang on this to hide some disharmony elements outside aesthetically.

In this way, this is very friendly to Kyoto's life.
Location by Google Map

Thursday, October 19, 2006

tile roofs 2

Toji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
These old tile roofs slightly have different colors, largely unlike new identical ones.

But they are the same in shape.

The mixture of this difference and sameness makes this building tasteful.
Location by Google Map

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A long building

Sanjusangendo Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
This is a long-long building in a temple. Its width is less than 20 meters and its length is 120 meters.

Why is it so long? Because people can watch many Buddhism images in line. This container has more than 1,000 identical images. It is countless! The number, 1,000, meant the infinite in those days.

By the way, I wonder if "mille" out of "millefeulle" means the infinite or countless.
Location by Google Map

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Memoirs of my staying in Manhattan

Murouji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
This photo, one natural oblique tree among many forested straight cedar trees, reminds me of short-staying in Manhattan, NYC, in winter for the first time.

Manhattan is, as you know, the city of many skyscrapers. It has a rigid grid of streets, running from north to south and from east to west. On both sides of these streets are towering many buildings, too tall to look up their top.

I felt a little oppressed when walking along a very straight street, surrounded by these structures made of stones, concrete, steel and glass. Every stuffs were composed of vertical and horizontal lines there. Nothing was natural elements. All were artificial. The streets was under the shade of these buildings though the sky was clear. Plus, it was windy. I felt as if I were walking along the artificial valley between towering buildings.

Walking toward the north led to an intersection, and then I happened to find an oblique street running. It was, so called, Broadway and one of a few roads running in a diagonal direction in the grid. Then I was getting better as walking on Broadway.

Manhattan has no slope, I'd think, a grid of streets, many skyscrapers and is artificial.(except some parks:-)) Between them is Broadway. This road softens a feeling of somewhat pressure caused by the artificial.

But I like this exciting and amazing city very much:-)
Location by Google Map

Tile roofs

Toshodaiji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
Toshodaiji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
This is a close-up of tile roofs along the edge of the eaves in a temple.
On the tile roofs are carved Chinese characters and they show that this temple was founded by people from China.
Location by Google Map

Monday, October 16, 2006

In praise of shadow 2

Sumiya House, Kyoto sightseeing

Old-fashioned houses in the middle of Kyoto is long and narrow. So only a slight sunlight comes inside a house and it is dim inside even during the day.

One of traditional Japanese wares is a urushi ware, coated with urushiol lacuquer. The texture is quite smooth and glossy.

It looks too showy under the sunlight or the fluorescent light, but tasteful and sometimes elegant under the warm lighting of the candle light or incandescent lamp.

The mood of the texture is totally up to the light. This kind of warm light is indispensable to Japanese mysterious beauties.
Location by Google Map

Sunday, October 15, 2006

a narrow path: Kyoto

Gion area, Kyoto sightseeing
A narrow and little dark path leads to a Japanese restaurant.
Kyoto has many narrow paths like this and strolling through this kind of narrow paths is one of many enjoyments in Kyoto.
Location by Google Map

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bamboo groves

Jizo-in Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
Bamboo groves shut out the sunlight moderately and makes the light milder. Surrounded by bamboos, I can feel very relaxed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Yamazaki, Kyoto sightseeing
This is a distillation still to make whiskey from barley.

Barley is boiled in the still to extract methanol and the vapor of alcohol component passes through this big copper tube to cool off and go to another tank.

An expert in this factory says that the way of cooling it off has a great influence on the savor of whiskey and that pipes' width decides the speed of cooling it off. Thicker pipes cools it slowly and the thinner does it rapidly.

Two of three stills in this photo have a swell on the base of pipes. This has the cooling speed adjust, an expert says.

By the way, cheers, toasts, or bottoms up, means "Kanpai" in Japanese. I love this word, indeed:-) Could you tell me what you say as cheers in your country?
Location by Google Map

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Classic graffiti?

Japanese calligraphy, Kyoto sightseeing
Excuse me not for being the daily scenery.

What is this?

Classic graffiti? No, it is a slice of poetry.

This was written on a paper by a famous poet and essayist more than a thousand years ago. I, like most people in Japan, hardly read a series of characters and only Japanese scholars and calligraphers can read them.

But I love to watch this kind of calligraphy though I cannot understand these meanings. I would think that the curves of these characters have fine and delicate beauties, just like the flows of dancing ballerinas.

Every time I watch this, I cannot help being surprised that just a thin paper have been remained for more than a millennium.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A baby tree

Sento Gosho, Kyoto sightseeing

A little young cherry tree is growing on a runt.
I don' know why...
It is very strange.
Location by Google Map

Monday, October 09, 2006

A traditional house

Shugakuin Imperial Villa, Kyoto sightseeing
I took the photo from outside the house.

This is the simple house in an ex-aristocratic villa, designed for summer vacation and it was not used in winter. The house is separated from outside only by sliding doors and windows, made of thin paper and wooden frames.

Any air conditioners is not installed in this house but cool breeze from the breathing trees around pleasantly passes through the rooms. This kind of houses can take in more breeze than the modern houses do. Because they have a large window and their wooden walls are thinner. It is natural and earth-friendly air conditioners.
Location by Google Map

Modest green

Koto-in, Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
Mosses softly wrap the earth. I, personally, like the combination of the mosses and the moderate green of trees behind:-)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A garden

Shisendo Temple, Kyoto sightseeing

This building is very open and best to see a garden. A scattering of light pinks of some azaleas adds the garden to the beauty. A month later the leaves will be dying and the garden will be another looking, full of yellow and red of maple leaves over azaleas.

By the way, the late Princess Diana visited the house when she was in Kyoto 20 years ago. She visited there in May and so perhaps see the flowers. When people hear that fact, these pinks might remind people of the rose...
Location by Google Map

Friday, October 06, 2006

Taking a nap just only for some hundreds years...

Sanzen-in Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
Once upon a time in Japan, there were two kids.

A: Um...That lunch was delicious. I fully enjoyed it and have had plenty.
B: I become a little sleepy since I am full.
A: Me too.
B: zzz....

They have been sleeping still now perhaps because of the velvety moss and mild sunlight through the trees.

If you go there and are lucky, then you can hear them slightly sonring:-) But I haven't, unfortunately...
Location by Google Map

A smiling face

Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing

This is a wall of a Zen temple. In the wall is embedded a little doll, made of the same material as tile roofs. This smiling doll is a a kind of Gods in Japan and can bring us the good luck.

PS. another photo of the wall
Location by Google Map

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Drawing by language?

Saihoji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing

By the way, do you know haiku?
It is very short poem in Japan.
It has only three lines.
In Japanese the lines have five, seven and five syllables.
But only in those lines, people can understand the poet's feeling.

Here is a famous haiku:
Furu-ike ya(古池や)
kazazu tobikomu(蛙飛び込む)
mizu no oto(水の音)

the old pond
a frog jumps in
the sound of water
(translation in English)

You might think "so what is that? or what does it mean?" after reading it.
Haiku has no logic, or no subject and conclusion.
It has just only feeling. That's all.
I can feel it but it is hard for me to explain what it intends...

In the past there was no camera,
and brush and color for painting might be so expensive,
so people clipped and painted the daily scenery by language, not by brush and color.

It is like photography or art, I think...
Location by Google Map

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kofukuji Temple

Kofukuji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing

This is a temple not in Kyoto but Nara.
Personally I like the silhouette of this tall building as well as the slight curving of the roof.
Location by Google Map

Monday, October 02, 2006

Maple leaves on the stones

Kozanji Temple, Kyoto sightseeing
While I walked around a garden after the rain, I found the stone sticked some maple leaves on. They are little ornaments of the stone.

By the way, I prefer seeing stones in the gardens in a clear sky after the rain. Because the wet stones shine, receiving rays of the sun.
Location by Google Map

Sunday, October 01, 2006

lively picture without painting: Katsura Imperial Villa

Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto sightseeing
This is one of buildings in an aristocratic villa, built about 400 years ago.

This simple house faces to the pond and inside the building are not any pictures and decorations.

Was the holders of this house poor?
No, they were very rich.

So why is this so simple and not decorative though they were rich?
Any pictures are not needed because there are supreme and three dimensional living-pictures outside, the nature itself.
Location by Google Map