December 31, 2005

京都 2005 - 12 Garden of Fine Art - Botanical Gardens

[181105] took e 北8 Kyoto City bus from Kenkunjinja-mae stop outside Daitokuji. slotted e one day bus pass into e #4 slot of e fare machine beside e driver, & *BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP*....driver had to retrieve e pass from e machine that refused to regurgitate it.

all along e cat had been taking buses with red or blue signs where e bus pass has to be fed into e fare machine, which will then spit it out. but buses like e 北8 with purple signs that go beyond e one day bus pass zone have fare machines that will choke to death on bus passes. & so you simply show your pass to e driver, who will tell you e additional fare to pay (or none, if you are still within e zone)....

seems that e cat will kena at least one si beh pai seh public transport blooper on every trip to Japan *grin*

Kitayama-dori, an 'atas' neighbourhood with e main road lined with boutiques, cafes, apartments & yellow ginkgo trees:


inhale + exhale = how to fit into e clothes sold here?


Ando Tadao's Garden of Fine Art, a dream come true =)) have been wanting to come here for many suns & moons liao. here are porcelain panel reproductions of famous paintings displayed within an amazingly compact space:


[L-R, top to bottom]:

  • Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon
  • looking in from e ground level entrance
  • scroll 1 of Choju giga, almost 23 metres in length (twice e original size)
  • looking back from e ground level exit
  • as you walk in from e entrance, Michaelangelo's Last Judgement comes into sight
  • e bridge in e Song dynasty painting 清明上河图 (Ascending e River at Qing Ming festival)
  • Kyoto Prefectural University campus behind e Garden of Fine Art
  • da Vinci's Last Supper
  • looking out towards e exit
  • info panel on e Last Judgement
  • looking up from e second level - amazing how diagonal walkways break e monotony & 'enlarge' a small rectangular space
  • on e lowest level of e Garden

once watched a NOVA documentary on how a China bridge historian & his team including USA collaborators attempted to build a 'rainbow' arch bridge similar to e one depicted in 清明上河图, with only this painting (of which only reproductions exist today) & a few surviving diagrams for reference. didn't catch e name of e painting at that time, but once e cat saw this mosaic panel, it recognised e bridge instantly =)) & only from e Garden of Fine Art pamphlet & Google did e cat find out how significant this painting is! totally mind-blowing....


[L-R, top to bottom]:

  • e entrance along Kitayama-dori
  • e best way to display Monet's Water Lilies: Morning - totally submerged
  • cat from scroll 2 of Choju giga
  • second level, where you look directly across to e part between heaven & hell in e Last Judgement
  • Last Judgement
  • blends in so perfectly that e cat missed e sign & almost couldn't find e place
  • outside, inside & outside: e buildings west of e Garden, a window on a wall of e Garden, & trees of e Botanical Gardens east of e Garden of Fine Art
  • second level again
  • looking up from e bottom level at people gazing at e Last Supper
  • falcon from scroll 2 of Choju giga - yet another reminder of e 'family'
  • art students with their lecturer staring at hell
  • helping to pull souls down into hell while posing for photos

on to 京都府立植物園 e Kyoto Prefectural Botanical Gardens (combined admission with Garden of Fine Art = 250 yen - a steal), where people were sketching by e lotus pond:

PB180817 PB180830

this guy's hat blends in perfectly with e big fat drooping lotus leaves (above right - spot him!) =P

PB180821 PB180831


walked along e west bank of e Kamogawa to e bus stop to catch a bus to Kawaramachi-Sanjo:


another happy shopping experience, starting with e JEUGIA CD store that e cat chanced upon along e Sanjo covered shopping arcade, which had a few Mizoguchi Hajime CDs =) listening to e actual CD isn't allowed, but you can scan e barcode & listen to 45 second samples of each track (same as what is available online) at e listening stations. & e staff called up their Shijo branch & got them to set aside their only remaining copy of Espace II for me!

down e Shinkyogoku shopping arcade towards Shijo, picking up dinner from e ampm konbini, & e cosmetic stuff from e pharmacy that had placed a special order on behalf of e cat. along e way, discovered Sakae supermarket at e intersection of 新京極通 Shinkyogoku-dori & 六角通 Rokkaku-dori, which has nice tempura-don bento & e omiyage 'sweets' that e cat bought for e 'family' (but only e maid & e whale got to eat them).

e cat got a bit lost along Shijo-dori as e JEUGIA store was far beyond e area covered by it's detailed map of Shijo. instructions from e Sanjo store staff were to look out for e Daimaru depato....but there are two Daimarus along this road! sought help from a parking warden, & in e process probably saved a few vehicles from kena-ing summons ;)

found e store, but it was on e 2nd floor accessible only by stairs....more torture for e troublesome knee. but made it up e stairs well before closing time =P & just as e cat was about to leave after getting e CD, it was stopped by e staff who wanted to put all e cat's barang (4 plastic bags of CDs, dinner, & omiyage stuff) into a large carrier bag for its convenience =)) so much for Tower & HMV....JEUGIA wins in Kyoto!

experienced e magic of 'sumimasen' in e Friday night crowd on board e #205 bus back to K's House hostel....everyone was squashed on e packed bus, yet trying their best not to squash one another's belongings (that is how considerate they can be even while they are squashing your face!). & by magic no one was unable to get off at their stop....with a soft 'sumimasen' e Red Sea would part ever so slightly (not sure how they managed it - everyone holding their breath simultaneously?), enabling whoever pressed e bell to squeeze his/her way from e darkest depths of e bus right to e front to pay e fare, alight, & expand back into his/her original size & shape.

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + kyoto_2005 + japanese1 + architecture1 + art1 + nature1 + music1 ]

京都 2005 - 11 Ryoanji - Kinkakuji - Daitokuji

[181105] temple temple day....

unsure of e bus timings & how long it takes to change buses....ended up at Ryoanji temple at 07:30AM, when e only thing to do was to watch e guys from Asahi & some other drink company empty coins from e vending machines & restock them with stuff like minestrone soup....


....& some mysterious 'waist-wave' thingy:


indication of Ryoanji's presence on e international tourist map: 2 separate toilet blocks, with one entire block just for 'Western style' cubicles. at 07:55AM e ticket booth opened, & 4 early birds + 1 early cat had Ryoanji's kare sansui (dry landscape) garden all to themselves:


15 stones in 5 groups, arranged such that one always remains hidden from view when seen from any point along e e cat's 5-year old AR1722 (e cat took CFMs that prepared it for travelling =P) lecture notes, e plan of e garden is drawn from an aerial view in order to show every rock.

PB180526 PB180524

e difference between arriving at e 08:00AM opening time [below left], half an hour after opening time [below right], & 09:00AM when big fat tour groups pour in en masse & loudspeakers start blaring Japanese commentary about e garden - don't bother to take photos, run!

PB180551 PB180548

everyone zooms in on e famous dry garden & forgets about e rest of Ryoanji, so escape from e noise & crowds is still possible in other charming bits of e temple grounds:




on to 金閣寺 Kinkakuji, which was packed to e gills less than 15 minutes after opening time. helps to be a small cat when squeezing to e front to see this:



no wonder e pond is called 鏡湖池 Kyoko-chi (lit. mirror lake pond). damn heng that e cat changed its plans to come here on e 15th or 16th - think it was closed off for a while on one of those days, when President Bush came by for a visit.

Japanese have this obsession with throwing coins at everything:


at almost every temple that e cat visited, staff would be raking up coins with nets from e bottom of ponds & around statues like these.

more maples:



不動堂 Fudo-do, dedicated to e God of Fire:


where you can buy your fortune from a machine....

PB180611 PB180610

....& conveniently trash it if it turns out to be bad

on e way to 大徳寺 Daitokuji:


big fat Daitokuji has 20+ subtemples & felt like a micromouse maze built for humans:


red rectangle = 'you are here'
blue arrow = 大仙院 Daisen-in (is e Baby here?)
green arrow = 高桐院 Koto-in

e cat took quite some time just to get to e red rectangle as there didn't seem to be any distinct entrance to e temple complex. it chanced upon e path leading to e red rectangle when it wandered through e carpark (big fat empty space at middle right).

for blondes?


entrance to Daisen-in tei-en, another famous kare sansui garden:


no photography allowed within....though e nice pamphlet with pictures of e garden sponsored by Kikkoman was some sort of consolation =P

here e cat was struck by e (lack of) size of e garden - just narrow rectangular strips of spaces surrounding a hall. & amazed by how e grainy black & white photos in e lecture readings sprang to life - e 枯山水 'dry waterfall', 'river flowing under e bridge', 'treasure ship', 'turtle swimming against e currents', etc - all without a drop of water. & how mere gravel & rock could create such an illusion of space in an area so confined, allowing e mind to transcend e boundaries of e perimeter walls that shut out e rest of e world =)

Koto-in, another subtemple famous for its maples, which were still mostly green:


to get out of this big fat maze, e cat just kept walking south until it hit Kitaoji-dori. nice noren spotted on e way out of e Daitokuji complex:


[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + kyoto_2005 + japanese1 + architecture1 ]

京都 2005 - 10 Takao - Kiyotaki - Tenryuji

[171105] second day in e mountains of northwest Kyoto. standing space only on e first Shuzan-bound West JR bus for e hour-long ride to Takao.


2'C weather = bus windows opaque with frost = e cat alighted one stop too early at Makino-o. had to figure out bearings & walk towards Togano-o bus stop to get to Kozanji temple. which turned out to be a disappointment. e first morning rays broke through gaps in e trees only to struggle through e thick mist, casting eerie shadows upon e rather desolate grounds. & most of e maples were still green =|

frozen cat with frozen paws + frozen nose backtracked towards Makino-o & had better luck at Saimyoji temple:


brilliant!! this is precisely what e cat has come all e way to Kyoto to see =)) *happy happy*

PB170239 PB170242

many of e temples & gardens that e cat visited on this trip serve green tea + a wagashi sweet or two for a fee:

PB170224 PB170230

was admiring e reflection of a bright yellow maple on e surface of some 'pond' [L], when a cleaner emptied out a whole pail of dirty water into it [R]:

PB170227 PB170225

beautiful things don't last eh? but neither do e ripples, which will vanish with time, & have their place taken by e beautiful reflection again. shot a series of images, & e one on e left was taken after e one on e right.

only a handful of visitors (mostly diehard shutterbugs with tripods & big fat zoom lenses), so everyone could admire & savour nature's beauty in peace & quiet....


....unlike e madness at Jingoji temple:


many Japanese here had 5 legs, & it has nothing to do with eating too much takoyaki (grilled octopus + wheat flour balls). they were armed with SLRs, all trying to '找 (find) angle'. as soon as you stopped & so much as raised your camera, someone(s) would pop up next to you, tilt his head to check out what you were photographing & then (almost) pierce your feet with his tripod as he set up his gear right where you are standing to try & compose e same shot....something easier said than done for those who are taller than e cat & have to break their backs bending down to see things literally from e cat's point of view =P

long hard climb all e way up to e entrance of Jingoji (below left), & even more climbing within e temple grounds:

PB170264 PB170324



right knee giving trouble again on this trip (as it has since secondary school days), & by this point it couldn't be bent anymore. had to walk & climb up & down really slowly with a really weird gait. must be e little bit of jumping done (not supposed to!) over e past few weeks during wushu =| lucky that Atago-san, e not-so-tall (8-900+m) tallest mountain planned for this trip, was cleared with no problem e day before.

but e maples were brilliant =)

PB170330 PB170352

PB170278 PB170279
PB170334 PB170318

to e point that nobody seemed to notice e temple buildings, which received far less attention than even e doggie:

PB170290 PB170312

stepping out of e Jingoji entrance is like stepping into a painting, with even more beautiful maples outside:


think those within e temple are e center of attraction simply because they are blood red....e golden ones on e outside & around e open-air restaurants along e steps leading up to e entrance are just as spectacular:


how not to want to have lunch here, with tiny maple leaves landing on your table & in your soup each time e breeze lures them away from e branches above? =P

here you collect a number on placing your order at e counter & wait at a table of your choice for your number to be yelled out, & then attract e waiter's attention before he goes hoarse & he'll bring e food over to you. simple, except that everything is in Japanese....



an English-speaking staff kindly told e cat what #94 sounds like in Japanese, & so it was listening out for someone yelling kyuju-yon (however it is spelt)....but e waiter ended up shouting 'tempura udon' instead *lol*


780 yen (e most expensive catfood of e trip) later, *satisfied burp* =))

little hike from Takao to Kiyotaki following e Kiyotaki-gawa downstream, past dining platforms on e river banks & stands of Kitayama sugi trees:

PB170369 PB170372
PB170373 PB170388

great escape from e maddening crowds & roaring tour coaches at Takao:


back in Kiyotaki, at e starting point of yesterday's Atago-san climb:


by Kyoto bus through e human + vehicular traffic jam in Arashiyama to Tenryuji temple:


[L-R, top to bottom]:

  • cute plant seen around homes in Kiyotaki & Arashiyama neighbourhoods
  • 心洗 - where people collect water trickling out of a bamboo pipe in a ladle & splash it on e tall rock
  • main garden of Tenryuji which appears in travel magazines & guidebooks
  • super pek chek frog
  • another view of e stunningly beautiful main garden, with e mountains behind
  • daruma
  • path leading down from highest point of e garden that has a wonderful view of Hiei-zan, Daimonjiyama, e Higashiyama mountains & Kyoto city
  • cloud shadows dancing across e Kitayama mountains
  • wonder how many photos she appeared in while walking through e temple grounds


at e main garden, some Japanese guy came forward & offered to take photos of e cat - 'can I take shutter?' (why do Japanese use e word 'shutter' instead of 'photo'?) - with its camera. unlikely that he'd run away with e simple Olympus since he was weighed down by camera equipment worth far more than e cat's total travel expenses, so why not? even waited for e right moment when both e clouds & crowds thinned for a while, & so e cat ended up with 2 photos of itself in good lighting =)


e peak on e left is supposedly Hiei-zan, & Daimonjiyama is somewhere in e middle. spent quite a bit of time at e highest point of e garden enjoying this view, partly because a point was reached where it hurt too much to walk. worse still, one sole of e 7-year old track shoes was coming off....this faithful pair has taken e cat along trails in 12+ national parks & nature reserves of Tasmania, Victoria, Yosemite, King's Canyon & Sequoia, Mt Lassen, Mt Shasta, Mt Kinabalu & Nikko, how can it give up now when there are still 10 more days of trails + Daimonjiyama + Konpira-san to go =|

outside Tenryuji, e cat drifted along with e crowds until it chanced upon a cute owl made from kimono crepe silk:


& then more & more of its friends:


& e cat followed e trail of cute stuff into e Chirimen Craft Museum of Arashiyama:


chirimen zaiku is e cat's favourite Japanese traditional craft =)) ever since it came across tsurushibina aka. hanging hina dolls. it even has 2 books on how to make them. couldn't take photos within e museum & shop, so for an idea of what was on display (& sale), see this site.

at e Keifuku Arashiyama station, a reminder to get dinner:


long (because of e shoe & knee) walk to e JR Arashiyama station for e train ride back to Kyoto station, passing by e post office (where e Hello Kitty postcards to e 'family' were mailed out) & little shops selling fresh vegetables, barbecued fish, groceries & washi paper stationery.

on e way back to K's House hostel from Kyoto station:


preying mantis + big fat whale doing what else but eating fish....

came back to find 2 new Japanese room mates, one working in architecture, e other a history student with super power legs who covered e entire Higashiyama + Karasuma shopping area + back to Higashiyama again at night for e temple light-ups, all on foot.

10 hot gyoza from e Kyoto Station Isetan B2 food hall + laundry 'sponsored' by a hostel mate who dropped in too many 100 yen coins + 1 tube of superglue from e Lawson konbini (for e falling-apart shoe) later, things were looking much better for e cat =)

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + kyoto_2005 + japanese1 + nature1 + architecture1 + art1 ]