“Veni, Vini, Amari”
Today we explored Kyoto with an excellent guide named Ohashi from MK Taxi.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
We began with a visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine where we learned about the god Inari, who is the god of rice, and general prosperity in the Shinto faith.
Many business owners have paid to have torri (large gates) built in order to bring their businesses good fortune. Over a thousand of such gates are all lined up. It really is awesome to see.
Tofukuji Zen Temple
Next we went to Tofukuji Zen Temple (partially to escape some of the crowds at the Fushimi Inari Shrine).
We learned that in modern Japanese culture, many people go to Shinto shrines when they are celebrating happy events in their lives such as graduations or weddings, and go to Buddhist temples when they mark sad events such as a funeral.
Next we went to Sanjusangendo, a Buddhist temple. Imagine a 120 m long building with 1000 life-sized sculptures of armed kannon (in about 5 elevated rows) , along with 28 sculptures of guardian deities, and one large Buddha.
It was certainly something to see but no pictures were allowed.
In years past, archery competitions would be held at this location. In these competitions, you would see how many arrows you could shoot in a day (the winners were in the 13,500 range), and how many of those would hit their mark (winners were about 12,000).
There is a book on display which holds the notes on who won these competitions each year for over 230 years (!)
We enjoyed lunch at Nishiki market, where we learned what some of the items we were eating actually were. Bamboo shoots, purple pickles, seaweed and more.
Our last stop for the day was Ginkaku Ji, the so-called Silver temple, a Zen temple built in 1490. The grounds make up the former villa of a shogun. It was spectacularly beautiful. Ohashi reminded us that it is not this beautiful all on its own – there are many qualified personnel who help to keep it so tidy and keep out intrusive shrubs/grasses every day.