Monday, 8 December 2008

A New Acquisition

I've been spending a bit of time putting together an outfit here.

It turns out to be a very complicated thing and I am still missing a variety of parts, but I am quite happy with how things are progressing.

Today I got the underwear. The Jiban, a silk undergarment that you can see at the neck (in the very last picture).

...and the bustle which goes under the obi (sash) called an Obi Makura.

I still need a wide variety of strings and ornaments, but as I say, things are coming along.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

760 votes!!??????

AP - US Senate Minnesota
Precincts Reporting: 4128 of 4130 (99%)

Winner Candidate Votes %
Norm Coleman 1,210,740 42%
Al Franken 1,209,983 42%
James Niemackl 8,893 0%
Charles Aldrich 13,904 0%
Dean Barkley 437,113 15%

Last updated: Nov-05-2008 06:34 AM Central Standard Time
Decision 2008 Election Results


The AP just released this - the margin is now even smaller:

"Coleman declared himself the winner of Tuesday's election, but Franken said he would let the recount play out, hoping it would erase the incumbent's 475-vote lead out of nearly 2.9 million ballots. State officials said the recount wouldn't start until mid-November and would probably take weeks."

Saturday, 1 November 2008

In Kyoto with Aunt Chris

Our next days in Kyoto were just as exciting! Each morning we would get up and change from our yukattas into our Western street clothes and walk and walk!

Everyday we would pass the river and watch the herons fishing.

We also saw what I think was a falcon.

So, on our second day in Kyoto you will not be surprised to hear that we did a lot of walking. Starting off in the morning headed toward Gion the pleasure district famous for its Geishas. The twisted streets and little neighborhoods were interesting in themselves...

Of course Gion is a big tourist area so there were the unavoidable tourist rides.

...and eventually we found a few interesting temples, ...

like Sennin-ji Kyoto’s oldest temple –

Here is a detail of the roof tiles and decorations.

Every turn had a memorable photograph!

This temple is quite famous for a beautiful screen of two demigods...

...and a two dragon ceiling.

We plodded through various halls and open-air passages in our red plastic slippers and got to see some of the historic interiors:

as well as a calligraphy class. We arrived just in time to see them finishing the raking of the zen garden...

and of course there were many other beautiful gardens as well:

and watched a woman in a deep, deep bonnet painstakingly manicure the moss garden with a pair of tweezers.

We saw some beautiful rock gardens.

Although we never saw any real Geisha, as we left the temple there were some women dressed as Maiko (Geisha in training) probably advertising the show at Gion corner, so we took pictures and tried to be satisfied with the hyperreal.

The streets of Gion are unlike anywhere else in the world!

Next we went shopping in the covered shopping area Teramachi dori.

(a traditional Japanese version of a Mall) where we enjoyed the lines of stalls selling traditional pickles, fish and Japanese sweets.

After that it was on to contemporary shopping in the modern mall.

That was great, cause Chris and I are equal opportunity shoppers!! Eventhough the day was only half over, I'll close for now and continue in another post! The best was yet to come!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

A Taste of Things to Come

I'm back. I'm exhausted and I don't feel like chatting right now, but here is a little sample of what's to come.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Kyoto Tour in the afternoon

The second half of our Kyoto tour was also awe-inspiring! We had been taken to the Kyoto Craft Center for lunch where we got to look at (and consider buying) the many marvelous traditional crafts of the region. They even had the artists hard at work, so we could see the care and skill involved in producing the many beautiful artifacts.

Floor after floor of objects were on display!

I wanted to buy one representative object form each vendor, but of course I had to restrain myself!

Instead I refused to rein in my desire for the buffet provided on the second floor. We had sushi, spaghetti, bean desserts and all manner of good things!

Our next stop was my absolute favorite place in all of Kyoto San--ju--san-gendo - the largest wooden structure in Japan.


It is filled with 1001 life-sized images of the goddess of Compassion called Kannon in Japan.She supposedly has 1000 arms, although the statues each only have (I believe) 41 arms). We were not allowed to take pictures inside the building, so instead I have borrowed these images from the net.

The statues were made by someone who believed that by creating so many statues of Kannon he could gain his desires, because there is a story that says if you pray to Kannon 1000 times whe will grant you her compassion.

Each Kannon figure has an individual face and they were completed by many different artists.

In between the rows of Kannon sculptures are the 39 (?) Boddhisattivas called Generals. These were based on Hindu myths and many can be recognized as incarnations of famous Hindu gods.

These carvings are also absolutely breath-taking.

Here are a series of images from the Hall. In the center of the hall sits a large gilt figure.

In the back (because the hall is so long, they have practiced for and held archery contests. )

This is absolutely my most favorite spot in Kyoto and maybe even in all of Japan.

Our next stop was the Heian Jingu Shrine. This is an unforgettable shrine in the red/orange style of the Chinese.

The Shrine itself is a relatively modern building complex, having been built in 1895 to commemorate the beginning of the Heian dynasty 110 years before.

The dramatic quality of the architecture makes it an ideal place for exciting photography.

Another view of one of the buildings.

This garden has symbolic islands in the lake representing turtles and longevity. I'm sorry that I can't better remember what each island stands for and how they are represented.

It was a tranquil and inviting place.

Here is a lantern along the lake of the garden.

And of course it is a favorite spot for weddings. No one can resist taking a portrait of a Japanese bride in her long white robe with its hood designed to hide the horns that supposedly will soon make her husband very unhappy.

It doesn't look like the groom cares, but the bride's expression almost seems to confirm the myth. Of course if this is anything like any other wedding I've seen, they are probably both so stressed out that their thoughts are a million miles away.

Our final destination was Kiyo Mizudera, known for its healing waters. On our way to the temple we passed this monk asking for alms.

One enters the famous cliff temple from below climbing dozens of stairs and passing this multi-level pagoda-like building.

The temple was begun in 798 but most of the buildings are from the 17th century.

legend has it that if one drinks from the three sources of water one can have longevity, wisdom and or health, but that one must choose only two of the three.

We saw many people seeking the therapeutic value of the spring. There are also used to be the belief that if one jumped off the platform and survived the 13 meter drop that one would get one's wish. Supposedly some 85% of people survived, but they have now made it illegal to tempt fate in this way.

Finally tired but happy Chris and I were deposited by our bus driver near the river that leads to our Ryokan. here an egret pursues an evening dinner before the night completely settles in.