I visited Kyoto last week with my husband, so let me talk about this beautiful city today.
Kyoto had been the capital of Japan called “HEIAN-KYO” 1,000 years ago until the capital was moved to Tokyo in Meiji era.
As a center of KIMONO which is my job, the textile dyeing and weaving are very active there.
For the dyeing, Kyoto has a special method called “YUZEN-ZOME (YUZEN dyeing)”.
“KYO-YUZEN” is a KIMONO fabric made by this method and which is designated as a traditional craft of Kyoto. Colorful and refined KIMONOs such as HOUMONGI that I mentioned here are also dyed by this method sometimes.
For the weaving, “NISHIJIN-ORI” for FUKURO-OBI (a double-woven belt of KIMONO) is the most famous in Kyoto.
About 2 hours by car from the center of Kyoto, there is “AMANO-HASHIDATE”, one of the three most scenic spots of Japan.
When literally translating “AMANO-HASHIDATE” in English, it will be “a bridge to heaven”, but it is also said “a ladder set against Heaven fell down”. For me, it looks like a dragon flew down from Heaven, a mysterious scenery, isn’t it?
By the way, the area where AMANO-HASHIDATE is located is called TANGO Region where a KIMONO fabric “TANGO-CHIRIMEN”, a high-quality silk fabric is famous. The YUZEN-ZOME above mentioned is done on this white fabric.
At around the joint part of AMANO-HASHIDATE, there is a historical shrine called “KONO Shrine”, former “YOSANOMIYA”, of which the erection dates back 2,500 years.
KONO Shrine is also called “MOTOISE-KONO Shrine”. “MOTO” means “the origin”, and “ISE” means the “ISE-JINGU (ISE Grand Shrine)” which is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the goddess “AMATERASU-OHMIKAMI” located in the ISE City in Mie prefecture.
AMATERASU-OHMIKAMI is said to have resided in the KONO Shrine before moving to ISE-JINGU, that’s why, KONO Shrine is now called MOTOISE-KONO Shrine.
In fact, ISE-JINGU is a shrine complex composed of many Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, NAIKUU (an inner shrine) and GEKUU (an outer shrine). AMATERASU-OHMIKAMI is actually in NAIKUU, and in GEKUU, the god called “TOYOUKE-NO-OHKAMI” resides.
In 10 minutes on foot from the KONO Shrine, there is an inner shrine of KONO Shrine called “MANAI Shrine”.
MANAI Shrine is also dedicated to the TOYOUKE-NO-OHKAMI and which is known as the oldest Japanese power spot where you too will be overwhelmed by its divinity.
In MANAI shrine, I prayed for the world peace and the prosperity of humankind, in addition, though it is a personal matter, I thanked for the start of this blog to the world.
After this SANPAI (official visit to shrines), we stopped by a market of nearby fishing port where we enjoyed a wide variety of fresh seafood grilled on the spot, such as EBI (prawns), HOTATE (scallops), SAZAE (turban shells), KAKI (oysters), etc…
Since Tochigi, where we live, is a “land-locked prefecture”, it takes a couple of hours by car in order to get such delicacies from the sea.
After appeasing our hungers, we returned to the center of Kyoto and visited to “TO-JI Temple” which was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1994.
On the west side of RAJOUMON, a temple called “SAI-JI”, literally means “West Temple” was built, but neither RAJOUMON nor SAI-JI is existing any more now. (So don’t get disappointed when you find only a marker or a small park visiting there…!)
The buildings in the ground of TŌ-JI temple such as “GOJU-NO-TŌ (5-Story Pagoda)” or “KŌDŌ (lecture hall)” were built about 1,300 years ago by KUKAI (a Japanese monk also known as “KŌBŌ-DAISHI”), the founder of the SHINGON sect of Esoteric Buddhism.
In KŌDŌ, there are 21 Buddhist statues installed to form so-called 3D-Mandala.
Even for Japanese, it is difficult to understand the Universe that KUKAI tried to express with this 3D Mandala, but I think just standing in front of these statues without trying to understand something, you will feel something different. What an amazing space!
By the way, is it said there are about 190 shrines and temples in Kyoto. Not only TŌ-JI Temple, other temples like KIYOMIZU-DERA Temple or ENRYAKU-JI Temple were also registered as World Heritage Sites.