Sunday, March 30, 2014

This is where Cupid has his vacation home...

When I signed up to go to a trip to Kyoto, it was preparing to check an item off of my bucket list. I had already been to the modern Japanese capital of Tokyo, so I wanted to go to the historic capital of Japan, Kyoto. Considering how much older Japan is as a country when compared with the U.S., I have wanted to see and touch things that are incredibly old. Sadly, I still have not touched anything much older than the oldest buildings in America. Many of Japan's temples, shrines, and other buildings have been destroyed over the centuries, either by fire, earthquakes or World War II. And the items that are there are often replicas or happen to be under construction for restoration. Or, in some more extreme cases, such as with the Imperial Palace in Toyko, where the emperor lives, you cannot even go inside the buildings. Can you imagine not being able to visit the White House?

These little disappointments popped up throughout my day in Kyoto. But I was still able to get some photos, just not the ones I really had in mind.

So, our first stop was Kiyomizu Temple, which... was under construction. With huge scaffolding and tarps. I didn't even bother to get a photo.... not really picturesque. I was grouchy for a few minutes and then saw all the beautiful wood and metal inside the place and decided to focus on that instead. After all, I have a huge love for photographing wood and metal.

But that shrine, which is dedicated to mercy and compassion, is not where Cupid lives. The self-proclaimed "Cupid of Japan"is in the shrine above it, on a hill. Jishu Shrine is where you want to go to either predict your future love, or thank the gods for your current love. For 1,300 years, young people have been visiting the shrine to walk between two "love fortune telling" rocks. If you can walk from Rock 1:

... to Rock 2, about 10 meters away, with your eyes shut, then "your love will be realized."

Once your love is realized, you come back to the shrine with your great love and write your names on a flier to be hung on the front of the shrine in thanks.

Of course, if you want some assistance with your love, there are lucky charms for sale:

The name of the shrine means "pure water," and the line was VERY long to get a cup of water from the falls, which have been flowing for thousands of years. Most of the people washed their hands with it.

This was the gate to the shrine. Since the shrine itself was not looking very attractive, I took this photo instead.

The second stop on the tour was to Nijo Castle, which was built in 1603. It was not destroyed by fire or anything... however, the ornate wall paintings that adorned each room were replicas, as the originals have been tucked away for safe keeping. And no photographs were allowed in the castle, even of the replicas. Which was quite the bummer for me, because the Castle was my favorite sight of the day. With the exception of Starbucks at the rest area on the way home, of course.

But here is the gate and the outside of the shrine, which was still beautiful:

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