March 29, 2006



straycat has a healthy imagination and displays a fair amount of trust. It lets new people into its circle of friends. It uses its imagination to understand new ideas, things, and people.

straycat is a practical cat whose goals are planned, practical, and down to earth. This is typical of cats with normal healthy self-esteem. It needs to visualize the end of a project before it starts. It finds joy in anticipation and planning. Notice that I said it plans everything it is going to do, that doesn't necessarily mean things go as planned. Straycat basically feels good about itself. It has a positive self-esteem which contributes to its success. It feels it has the ability to achieve anything it sets its mind to. However, it sets its goals using practicality - not too "out of reach". It has enough self-confidence to leave a bad situation, yet, it will not take great risks, as they relate to it goals. A good esteem is one key to a happy life. Although there is room for improvement in the confidence catagery, its self-perception is better than average.

In reference to straycat's mental abilities, it has a very investigating and creating mind. It investigates projects rapidly because it is curious about many things [ curiosity killed e cat....hence e need for 9 lives? =P ]. It gets involved in many projects that seem good at the beginning, but it soon must slow down and look at all the angles. It probably gets too many things going at once. When straycat slows down, then it becomes more creative than before. Since it takes time to be creative, it must slow down to do it. It then decides what projects it has time to finish. Thus it finishes at a slower pace than when it started the project. It has the best of two kinds of minds. One is the quick investigating mind. The other is the creative mind. Its mind thinks quick and rapidly in the investigative mode. It can learn quicker, investigate more, and think faster. straycat can then switch into its low gear. When it is in the slower mode, it can be creative, remember longer and stack facts in a logical manner. It is more logical this way and can climb mental mountains with a much better grip.

straycat will be candid and direct when expressing its opinion. It will tell them what it thinks if they ask for it, whether they like it or not. So, if they don't really want its opinion, don't ask for it! [ HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! those who ask e cat silly stuff like 'am I getting on your nerves/your best friend in this ECA/shuai4/too emotional/better than so & so/do I look fat/etc, well you asked for it *duh* ]

straycat uses judgment to make decisions. It is ruled by its head, not its heart. It is a cool, collected cat which is usually unexpressive emotionally. Some may see it as unemotional. It does have emotions but has no need to express them. It is withdrawn into itself and enjoys being alone. The circumstances when straycat does express emotions include: extreme anger [ closest friends & family will know ], extreme passion, and tremendous stress [ SPS-ians will know =P ]. If someone gets it mad enough to tell him off, it will not be sorry about it later. It puts a mark in its mind when someone angers it. It keeps track of these marks and when it hits that last mark it will let them know they have gone too far [ *KA-BISH!!* ]. It is ruled somewhat by self-interest. All its conclusions are made without outside emotional influence. It is very level-headed and will remain calm in an emergency situation [ like e 1996 bus crash? ]. In a situation where other people might get hysterical, it has poise [ actually, it just hates screaming - a form of noise pollution, brutal auditory assault & waste of energy that could be used to defuse e situation ]. straycat will work more efficiently if given space and time to be alone. It would rather not be surrounded by people constantly. In a relationship, it will show its love by the things it does rather than by the things it says. Saying "I love you" is not a needed routine because it feels its mate should already know [ likewise for friends; if there is a regular need for such constant assurance, confidence in e strength of e relationship is lacking? ]. The only exception to this is if it has logically concluded that it is best for its mate to hear it express its love verbally. straycat is not subject to emotional appeals. If someone is selling a product to it, they will need to present only the facts. They should present them from a standpoint of its sound judgment [ all those biotech companies salespeople bugging us, TAKE NOTE! =P ]. It will not be taken in by an emotional story about someone else. It will meet emergencies without getting hysterical and it will always ask "Is this best for me?"

People that write their letters in an average height and average size are moderate in their ability to interact socially. According to the data input, straycat doesn't write too large or too small, indicating a balanced ability to be social and interact with others.

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

March 26, 2006

京都 2005 - 32 Taiko-an - Sanjusangendo - Kyoto-ekimae

[261105] 退耕庵 Taiko-an, a subtemple of Tofukuji on e way out to e main road:


is this e principal Buddha image?


e cat didn't wander very far in as e place was deserted & appeared to be closed. according to this & this it seems that you can pay to enter into e buildings & a garden?

e beautiful ceiling above e Buddha image:


very blur as e cat didn't dare to use flash (not good for e lifespan of e paintings) + a wooden fence blocking e entrance to this hall didn't help at all when trying to focus (& there is absolutely no way e cat's back can bend into a full xia1 yao1/yoga wheel pose over e fence to face e ceiling!). wonder how many visitors look up & notice e ceiling?

e sharpened bamboo stakes (to keep 梁上君子 burglars out?) look quite vicious:


Taiko-an has a little well guarded by a little maple tree:


慧日幼稚園 kindergarten along e way out from Tofukuji to e main road:


e appreciation of all things kawaii is drilled into Japanese from a young age =P

laundromat near Tofukuji that gives new meaning to e term 'money laundering':


e main road was crowded with big fat tour coaches & security people were stationed there to control both human & vehicular traffic so that ambulances & other vehicles could still access e Red Cross hospital sitting right next to e turning to Tofukuji.

back to 三十三間堂 Sanjusangendo aka. 蓮華王院 Rengeo-in temple, where e cat was stuck at much earlier this morning because it was still closed:


e 739 year-old (counting from its reconstruction in 1266) hall (do) has 33 (sanjusan) spaces (gen) between e columns, hence e name Sanjusangendo. it is ~120m long. what do you put in a hall so huge?


you fill it with 1000 statues (each taller than e cat) of Kannon (what e Chinese call 观音 Guanyin aka. Goddess of Mercy) + 28 statues of e guardian deities (nijuhachibushu) that protect Kannon (front-most row) + 1 statue each of Raijin ( 雷神 God of Thunder) & Fujin (風神 God of Wind)....& a huge seated statue of Kannon:

(scanned from e temple's brochure as photography isn't permitted within e hall)

behind all e statues is a corridor with interesting exhibits on e architecture of e temple hall, restoration of e 1000+ statues, & annual archery contest (complete with records of past winners since e 17th century), with a lot of information in English. this temple also has free lockers, & has been done up for barrier-free access, with gentle inclined ramps & wide enough space for wheelchairs to move within areas like e section that sells souvenirs & o-mamori =)

e west verandah of e hall serves as e venue for toshiya, an annual archery contest for new adults (those who will turn 20 in that year) on e second Monday of January (成人の日 seijin no hi aka. Coming of Age day):


think it used to be a guys-only competition, where one of e events involved shooting arrows for 24 hours straight to see who could hit e target at e far end of e hall e most number of times. e record is held by a champion who landed more than 8000 of his 13000+ shots in 1686....13000+ divided by 24 hours divided by 60 minutes works out to more than 9 shots per minute or 1 arrow every 6-7 seconds. no idea if he ate or went to e loo at all or how he kept awake & focused or if he collapsed at e end of it all. now girls are allowed to take part, & many come to watch them compete in their kimonos + hakama.

east side of hall:


夜泣泉 - e spring that cries at night?


detail of roofing - [L-R] sunflower, peony & chrysanthemum:


to get to e Kamigamo area in north Kyoto from Sanjusangendo, e cat had to change buses at Kyoto-ekimae terminal. & what a sight it was at Kyoto's main bus terminal right outside Kyoto train station on a peak season weekend:


there was hardly any space to queue at e berths, with plenty of dazed lost sheep fresh off e trains & inter-city buses trying to figure out how to get to e hundreds of amazing sights in Kyoto. Kyoto City Bus company had their green-uniformed staff out in full force holding placards & stacks of free tourist maps to help with route & fare information =)

one amazing thing is how e berths do not have separate queues for e 3 or more different services that share it. when a bus arrives, people who are waiting for another service will simply step aside to let others board, & by Japanese magic e queue will fall neatly into place again, without anyone losing his place =)

today Kyoto City Bus had staff stationed at each berth to call out repeatedly e names of e most famous temples/attractions served by e various buses as they pulled up, & guide passengers onto e correct buses. e staff also helped to call out to e bus driver to wait (all buses have an intercom at e rear door where passengers board) if they noticed any stragglers running for e bus =)

Kyoto-ekimae bus terminal today was an orderly warzone, if there is ever such a thing =)

while waiting for e #4 service to 上賀茂石計町 Kamigamo-Ishikazucho, e homeless lady was spotted again:


think she is wearing all of e warm clothing that she has. over e past 2 weeks or so e cat has come across this resident of Kyoto station several times. a reminder of how e rich-poor gap (more like a gaping chasm now) in Japan (& most countries around e world) keeps widening, & that a beautiful city like Kyoto has its harsh realities. here in Japan e homeless are usually careful not to cause obstruction or any nuisance (maybe except when they are drunk?), keeping a low profile & out of e way (like how e lady moved away to stand discreetly at an empty berth), & their belongings packed neatly:


think e police are quite strict with them too. later today e cat would come across more of them, like how it met e homeless living around Shinobazu pond in Tokyo's Ueno Park 3+ years ago.

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

京都 2005 - 31 Tofukuji

[261105] Tofukuji temple in e south of Kyoto has a small stream running through a little valley full of maples that burst into a riot of reds each autumn, making it one of e most well-known momiji sites in Japan. two parallel covered wooden bridges overlook e 洗玉澗 Sengyokukan valley of maples, 臥雲橋 Ga-un-kyo & 通天橋 Tsuten-bashi.

08:16AM at Ga-un-kyo:


e view of e Sengyokukan valley from Ga-un-kyo:


e front half of e queue at e Tsuten-bashi ticket booth (actually not really 'at', since those in e middle of e queue are already too far away to be considered 'at' e booth? =P):


back half of e queue too far away to photograph =P siao liao. e place opens only at 08:30AM & many have been patiently queueing here for almost an hour, according to a friendly security guard. after buying tickets, proceed to join another queue to e actual bridge:


first of e crowds move into e bridge queue:


very systematic, very orderly, very Japanese ;)

e bridge, with traces of e water that Japanese like to splash on pavements & roads to reduce e dust (a practice called uchimizu):


first guy literally runs onto e bridge & wastes no time squatting down to snap away with his camera:


before e rest of e crowd closes in on him:


e view from e bridge, without actually stepping onto it (judging from e previous photos, e cat had obviously given up on queueing to get in =P):


meanwhile e queue continues to grow as more & more arrive:


& e rest of Tofukuji remains totally deserted:


this is e big fat 三門 Sanmon gate, e oldest main gate of a Zen temple in Japan, with a lavatory (*LOL*) dating back to e 14th century (*faint*).

almost decided to leave Tofukuji after taking a short walk around e grounds, but suddenly remembered that there was a garden here that was on e cat's list of 'must-see' Kyoto gardens (culled from AR1722 lecture readings, websites & travel guides). turned out to be hidden behind e walls next to e Tsuten-bashi queue:


方丈 = hojo = abbot's quarters, surrounded by 4 gardens:


south garden, a kare sansui (dry landscape) garden:


e 5 moss-covered hills & 4 groups of rocks standing in a sea of white gravel symbolise 五山 (5 mountains), 四仙島 (4 islands) & 八海 hakkai (8 seas) respectively.

tipping e garden to fit it all into e frame:


why isn't e gravel all sliding off this thing? =P



west garden 井田市松:


turning e corner to e north garden, Tsuten-bashi (lit. 'connecting to sky' bridge? 'bridge to heaven'?) & e maples of Sengyokukan valley pop up suddenly:


totally unexpected! didn't know that e bridge & maple valley could be seen from here =)) & in this northwest corner of e abbot's quarters is a little platform 通天台 for you to admire e maples while making your unwanted guest appearance in many of e photos taken by those on e bridge =P


time to escape, after spotting quite a few visitors on e bridge appearing to point across e valley at e cat *LOL* but one last look at e maples before heading on to e 3rd garden:


love e emerald moss & cute round shrubs of e north garden 小市松:


e east garden 北斗七星, where e stones are arranged to form e big dipper:


elegant combi of raked gravel + green moss + weathered stone + symbolism =)) how magical it would be to admire e south & east gardens under e light of e full moon at night *dream* to think e forgetful cat almost walked out of Tofukuji without coming to this place....!!

south garden 08:38AM:


quite eerie to walk into such a silent empty place after encountering e crowds outside....a very weird feeling of trepidation. only after paying for e entry ticket to this garden, & e appearance of two other visitors, did e cat really feel that it wasn't trespassing into some forbidden Zen sanctuary sealed off from e outside world.

south garden 09:19AM:


taken as e cat was leaving. like Ryoanji, this is one place you should come to at e opening time ;) fortunately, unlike Ryoanji, this place doesn't have silly commentary blasting from loudspeakers to kill e atmosphere of a Zen temple. & e great thing about Japanese tourists (both adults & kids) is that they know how to keep their voices hushed in such places =)

crossing Ga-un-kyo again, on e way out to e main road:


visitors in e Sengyokakun valley (above) & more visitors on Tsuten-bashi directly abovehead (below):


outside along e road leading to Tofukuji, more tourists are coming to join e queue, which hasn't grown any shorter at all:


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