Saturday, April 18, 2009
Saturday & Sunday- Buddhist & Shinto
Saturday morning was the best so far- unlike yesterday, I slept until 3:30 am. Until myparents got up I read one of my books and watched a tv show mom has downloaded on her laptop. Somewhere around 6:00 we had breakfast, which consisted of ramen and orange juice. At 7:00 we set out for a temple dad had found in his guidebook. The walk was about 15-20 minutes. The temple was at the top of a hill & the pretty much the only way to get there was a narrow road that was relatively quiet, for the time being.
The name of the temple we were heading to was Kiyomizu-Dera. In Japan there are 2 kinds of holy places: a Shinto shrine is called a jinja & a Buddhist temple is called an otera. Kiyomizu-Dera is a Buddhist temple. Our visit there was pretty quiet for the first half hour, then a bunch of schoolkids began trickling in... then more... then more... then more... until the whole place was infested with school children. If you have claustrophobia, I suggest that you visit this temple at 3:00 in the morning & leave before 8:00 in order to survive!
That was pretty much the only big event of Saturday.
Today (Sunday) I slept until 5:00- a lot better than yesterday! After I woke up I started reading & somewhere around 6:00 mom & dad woke up. We got dressed, went downstairs, & had breakfast, which in mycase consisted of toast, an apple (which was extremely delicious), & a hard-boiled egg, which was made the previous day.After breakfast mom asked me to help her hang up the laundry, which I grudgingly agreed to do.
The main even of the day was to visit a Shinto shrine called the Fushimi Inari Taisha. The shrine was devoted to the goddess of rice & wealth, & whose messengers are foxes, or kitsune. One of the interesting features of the shrine was the 4 km pathways of torii gates, donated by families over more then 1500 years, so that the goddess would grant them prosperity. As luck would have it, while we were there, we saw people there preparing for a matsuri, or a festival. The most distinguishing feature of the festival was the 5 mobile shrines that were moved entirely by people power. The shrines looked as though they were made of brass & wood- very heavy- it was quite the sight to see them carrying them from what looked like storage garages.
Another feature of the shrine is the large number of shops selling omamori, mini torii gates, little kitsune statues, & different types of food, such as inari sushi. After we bought a few things, including my own personal tea pot, we took the train back to our little machiya & had lunch.