Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday, April 7th, Kyoto, Japan


Today was our first Japanese breakfast.  I've been getting used to stranger and stranger lunches and dinners, but I not my breakfasts.   I guess that's over.

By train, we went to the nearby city of Fushimi to see the Mt. Inari Shinto Shrine.  Built in the 8th century, the shrine is dedicated to  the Japanese kami (spirit, deity, divinity, god, etc.) which takes male and female forms, and often protects the harvest.

The crowds were enormous, and the many young marriages being celebrated and photographed were exciting to see.  Kimonos in every style and color were being worn, and it seemed like every teenage girl in Asia was taking pictures of their costumed best friends.

The paths up to the Shrine are straddled with vermillion gates (torii - bird abode), a pigment used for thousands of years all over the world which has come to be associated with places of worship.  Made from a powder of cinnabar, it was used in Central and South American in ceramics and cave paintings in the Chavin civilization, the Maya, Moche, and Inca empires.  It can also be found in ancient Rome and China.

One of the oldest representations featured there is of a kitsune (fox), a Shinto messenger.  Carrying in its mouth one of four objects symbolizing its powers and foci, the foxes have a long history of portrayal in Shinto shrines and at Inari. 

Next, we visited the Yasaka Shinto Shrine, first begun in 656AD.  The complex consists of several buildings, a main hall, and a stage.  Ordered by Emperor Murakami in 965 to be the site of imperial news and the reporting of great events to the guardian kami of Japan, the Mikoshi of the shrine were paraded through the streets of Kyoto in 969 to ward off an epidemic that had hit the city.

Finally, in the late afternoon we walked to the Gion District to have an early dinner and be introduced to a Maiko (Geisha in training).  This 16-year old apprentice performed a short dance, and answered questions from us on her life and career.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Saturday, Apr 7th, Kyoko, Japan.

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