Aug 25, 2014


The thousands of red torii gates at Fushimi Inari-Taisha. I've wanted to come here ever since seeing these gates in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. They led all the way up Inari Mountain and back again, some dating from the late 1880s.

One of the hundreds of shrines in the Fushimi Inari-Taisha complex we passed on the way up Inari Mountain. It was unique to see real rice lining the entrance, instead of the symbolic folded white paper hangings.

In Kyoto's Gion district, it's near impossible to spot a geisha. They are out of sight and kept that way. The woman above is a maiko, an apprentic geisha. In a show where masters performed traditional Japanese arts (from tea ceremony to Heian Era comedies), the maiko danced to the song of the four seasons (did you know Japan has four seasons? It's citizens will be proud to tell you so).

Kiyomizu-dera, a temple dating back to 798 with its current buildings constructed in 1633 (that's Shakespeare's lifetime, guys, and it's still standing). People are using their umbrellas to shelter them from the intense sunlight on this 38ºC day. It was so hot I actually had salt dry on my face from all the sweat! The name kiyomizu means "pure water" after the three-streamed waterfall inside the temple complex. No swimming in the holy water allowed, though.

Osamu Tezuka's Hi no Tori (Phoenix) at Kyoto's International Manga Museum. Here you could peruse shelf after shelf stacked high with Japanese manga translated into different languages. In one exhibit, manga was divided by the year it was written. Even just looking at the images, you could get a sense of the change in drawing style and story content from the 1900s to 1990s (especially the 1940s). The whole place made my manga-devouring teenage heart delighted.


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