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Coming out the other side

May 27, 2010

This is the gate to the Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto one of the final 21 sites to be considered for the “New 7 wonders of the World”.  This is a very popular tourist area and one of the places that is  known for its cherry and maple trees. Beyond the gate here are another set of stairs, a purification fountain and a place to purchase tickets to enter into the womb of Daizuigu Bosatsu.  So… how many of you out there can say that you’ve been in a Bodhisattva’s hoo-hoo? We bought our tickets to ride and entered in a single file line down a set of stairs into pitch black.  A guide line on the left side of the wall helped to navigate the darkness.  Jostling each other and strangers taking 90 degree turns in complete darkness we made friends with some people we’ve never seen.  For 5 minutes we wound around listening for each others breath and voices with a tentative hand out in front.   A splash of light entered into my vision and there is this stone being illuminated from above- very Indiana Jones is the easiest way to describe it.  Turning the the stone clockwise you make a wish.   Back into darkness you leave the stone and finally more light breaks down a stairway next to where you entered.  I was reborn and friends and family popped out all around me.  I don’t know if the looks in our eyes were just a readjustment to the sun or what.

Kiyomizu outlook

This is the main outlook with a view of Kyoto’s valley. According to the temples website, “The expression “to jump off the porch at Kiyomizu” is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression “to take the plunge.” This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive jumping from the terrace, one’s wish would be granted. 234 jumps were recorded in the Edo period and of those, 85.4% survived.”  Thats a good percentage for wishes right? I’m thinking optimistic on what they wished for here.  Oh yeah, the terrace is 13 meters tall, thats a little over 42 and 1/2 feet.

Right before we reached the terrace we came across people handing out tea.  TEA IS EVERYWHERE.  Why were they handing out tea?  Well it was Kannon’s birthday!  Kannon the Buddhist representation of compassion and mercy’s birthday and we were being served tea!  Thanks buddy! Oh wait Kannon has eleven faces and can take the form of male or female… Thanks friend-o! This is his/her picture here.

Kannon's birthday!

So there are eleven faces, eleven aspects.. but which one is this?  The same one they all are of course.  This is the main figure at the temple.Now further avoiding why the temple’s name translates into “pure water” I’ll change the subject.  One of the things people ask me is, “Have you seen a Geisha?”  Once.  We were in the Maiko district at dusk and this taxi cab pulls up to the curb and its back door springs open almost immediately  I hear a volume increase in people’s voices behind me, I turn to look and a blur of color speeds past Motoko and I into the readied taxi.  The taxi: surrounded by photographers/ Geisha eludes a frontal portrait.  The door shuts – the taxi gone.  Cut and print.   I did take a nice picture of a what I will call a Fakeisha.  Girls, especially Asian tourists like to dress up as Geisha and go out into the city and have their pictures taken.  When in Rome… and all that.  I mean think about it… would you go to work if nobody was paying you?  And to be clear they are not prostitutes.  It is more of a strict escort/entertainment service.  Honestly though, nobody has asked me that.

Fakeisha, but still cool looking huh?

After the temple we ambled down the shops lost each other, reconnected, finally found some food, and past by Hokan-ji Temple, known colloquially as Yasaka-no-to (Yasaka Pagoda).  Inspired by a dream the 46 meter tall pagoda was originally built in 589 by Prince Shotoku.

Transmission lines

I might post a more imposing picture of it later but I like the juxtaposition of this one.  For an aerial view visit

Later Gators.

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