Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Temples and Shrines

You could probably spend a year visiting Temples and Shrines in Kyoto and not see them all. We visited some of the larger and more well-known in Kyoto and Nara.  Many of the old Temple and Shrine buildings have been destroyed by fire, lightning, or earthquakes, and have been rebuilt. I was surprised that candles and incense burning were allowed in these huge wooden buildings for that reason, but they were.
This great temple was founded in 745 by Emperor Shomu to ward off the epidemics that regularly swept the nation and to cement imperial power. The main hall is the world’s largest wooden building and was last rebuilt in 1709. Japan’s largest bronze statue, a 15 meter Buddha on a lotus throne is housed here. This temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tōdai-ji has been used as a location in several Japanese films and television dramas, as well as a music concert site. It was also used in the 1950s John Wayne movie The Barbarian and the Geisha when Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, doubled as a city's gates.

This temple and the surrounding subtemples are home to more than a thousand semi-wild deer. Originally they were thought to be divine messengers of one of the Shinto gods. Vendors sell special deer crackers for feeding them and workers go around scooping the poop up.

Monkey Shrine
We came across this small shrine on a side street in Gifu. It’s not in the guidebooks, but we found it interesting.

Kiomizu Temple
This temple dates back to 778, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, during a restoration ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.  In 2007, Kiomizu was one of the 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World, but it was not ultimately chosen.

Kinkaku or Golden Pavilion is the popular name for the main building of the Rokuon-ji Temple.  This site dates back to 1397, but the current three story structure was rebuilt in 1955, after burning down in 1950.  The upper two floors are covered with Japanese gold leaf.  It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Heian Jingu Shrine
This Shinto Shrine was built in 1895 and mirrors the architecture of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.  The Torii before the main gate is one of the largest in Japan. The structure was damaged by fire in 1976, but was quickly repaired.  We enjoyed the beautiful gardens here.

Young English students
After leaving the Heian Jingu Shrine, this group of middle school students and their teacher interviewed us in English. They had all their questions memorized, asking them in unison and were very cute.

Stitching Update
I purchased this Lee canvas and a small purse at the French Knot before it closed, so I’m guessing I’ve had it a year and a half or so.  That’s not so long for a stitching project. My friends Rhoda and Martha were working on small canvases in beads, so I thought I would try it also.  Initially, I chose beads that were too large, so I had to start again.  This is what I have completed so far.

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