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Posts Tagged ‘japan’

wish

Thoughts and prayers with all my friends and colleagues in Japan

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It strikes me that in Japanese culture there is a great and sensitive understanding of the life, or the spirit, of stone. I was struck by that as I wandered through a couple of Japanese gardens recently. You just don’t see rocks like these in UK gardens, and there’s something about them which makes you SEE them when you might never have been used to seeing rocks before. Take a look at these examples and see if they change the way you notice stone over the next few days.

stone in the garden

stone in the garden

stone in the garden

stone in the garden

stone in the garden

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I am a great fan of Japanese gardens. They have a design aesthetic which is quite different from the one which is the basis of most UK gardens. One of the elements I especially enjoy is their use of water. There is something amazingly calming about reflecting on the reflections……

Heian Jingu Shrine reflections Kyoto

Heian Jingu Shrine reflections Kyoto

Heian Jingu Shrine reflections Kyoto

Heian Jingu Shrine reflections Kyoto

Heian Jingu Shrine reflections Kyoto

Heian Jingu Shrine reflections Kyoto

Heian Jingu Shrine reflections Kyoto

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Today I took a short trip on the train from Kyoto to Inari.
When you get off the train in Inari Station, turn left, then immediately up the first road on your right you’ll see the first two of 10,000 Torii gates winding up the hillside on which the shrine is built.

inari

Once you’ve climbed to the top of the hill you can look back to where you started and out over the whole of Kyoto.

See the same two gates in the distance?

inari and kyoto

That photo is taken with my zoom lens at full stretch. Look what happens as I pull it back up.

inari and kyoto

……and finally…..with minimum zoom…..(can you still see the gates?)

inari and kyoto

This shrine was originally dedicated to the God of rice, but is now more generally dedicated to prosperity. Each of the 10000 gates is donated by an individual or business hoping for prosperity. Foxes are believed to be the animals which guard the shrine and there are lots of stone ones to be seen (but I didn’t see any live ones).
The gates wind up and up the hillside. It’s quite a climb, especially on day like today when the temperature was 26C, but the gates are so close together that they form long shaded tunnels.

Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates
Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates
Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates
Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates
Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates

The gates thread their way through the wooded hillside and near the top you can wander off through forest paths…

Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates

I have never experienced anything quite like this. I’ve talked before about “emerveillement” and I strongly believe we need for re-enchantment in our overly materialist attitude to world. Places like this are known as sacred places. To walk in them, to sit in them, to breathe and listen and look around in them, it’s not hard to understand why. Magical.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

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Fascination

fascination

When I was in Tokyo last week there were Autumn Festivals going on. I saw one in the Akihabara district. There were lots of tables set up in the street and up on the first floor of the UDX building, selling freshly cooked seasonal foods and there were many stalls of games for children – Aunt Sally stalls, Archery, flower arranging and so on. There were loads of people there, and everyone seemed to be having great fun. These three wee girls caught my eye. Look how closely they are huddled together, and the sheer concentration in their faces. They are totally absorbed and completely fascinated with something. What is it? Look carefully. It’s a box of crayons. Lovely!

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Tokyo views

Do a search on this blog for “ben ledi” and you’ll see the kind of view I’m used to. Then you’ll realise what a culture shock it is to wake up and see this …….

tokyo
tokyo
tokyo

When I first looked out of the hotel window here in Ikebukuro I could only see the vastness of it all. And the fact that as far as I could see there were only buildings. But then I zoomed my camera in on some of the detail.

tokyo
tokyo

This is something you see a lot in Tokyo – an old building surrounded on all sides by tall new ones – like a wee oasis!

Parking must be a nightmare in Tokyo – can you make out the multi-storey parking lot? Do you think they park the cars sideways to get more in?
tokyo

Can you see the tennis courts?

tokyo

This building is right opposite my hotel. The little rail track running around the rim fascinates me. But I haven’t spotted any trains yet!

tokyo

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