Sunday, March 09, 2014

Spirited Away

Calvin : Where are we going after this? 
Paul : Temple.
Calvin : Didn't we just finish visiting a temple? 
Paul : Yes. 
Calvin : What are we doing tomorrow then?
Paul : Temple. 
Calvin : All temples?
Paul : It's all temples. 

It's Kyoto. Though my patent disregard for sombre spiritual spectacles ( not to mention awe-inspiring postcard-ready vistas ) is nearly infamous, it's almost impossible to escape from the dozens of temples here. Or shrines. Can pronounce quite emphatically without a doubt that there's a monumental historical shrine on almost every corner.

Sometimes even two.

Unlike in China where the communist revolutionaries did quite a number on their numerous temples. Or even Korea where barbaric invaders kept razing entire cities to the ground.

Perhaps fortuitously protected by a divine light, most of the shrines in Kyoto are not only intact ( or repeatedly rebuilt ) but also astonishingly beautiful works of architectural art. From austere Zen temples to towering Buddhist monasteries, we did a quick runaround of the inevitable must-sees on the tourist trail from the serene Nanzenji temple to the hilly Kiyomizudera. Game for all the kitsch, we tried out all the tacky touristy things on the list including making wishes at the various shrines, throwing dimes at the rock statues at Kinkakuji to drinking from the Otowa waterfall at the base of Kiyomizudera in the hope of achieving wealth, wisdom and longevity.

And just like every terrible Asian tourist, we snapped dozens of Instagram selfies of every possible scene.

It is just that wonderfully vermillion!

While I did enjoy the steep climb up to the Kiyomizudera - through narrow cobbled streets of stores and stalls, my personal favourite site would be the Fushimi Inari shrine. Though it's situated quite a distance from the main city centre, there's nothing quite as enchanting as spending a chilly misty morning walking through dozens of dazzlingly vermillion torii gates. Even made a purchase of my favourite soft toy which is a kitsune fox, supposedly the animal guardian of the temple.

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