Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Louis Louis

Mecca of conspicuous consumption in Omotesando.

Buddha's Feet, Kuhonbutsuji

For about 600 years after the Buddha's death it was not permitted to make images of him. One way of honoring him, then, was with a relief representing his footprints, as shown here. Eventually the floodgates opened, of course, and now we can enjoy Buddha statues in many temples.






Winter Sunset

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Evening, Shinjuku

Rickshaw Driver, Kawagoe

Rakan Statue, Kita-in, Kawagoe

Monday, January 04, 2010

Rakan Statue, Kita-in

The symbol of Buddhism is shown on the tablet.

Rakan Statue, Kita-in, Kawagoe

540 Rakan Statues, Kita-in, Kawagoe

These 540 statues at the temple of Kita-in were carved between 1782 and 1825.

Bell Tower, Kawagoe

From the so-called "Little Edo", in Saitama ken, here is the bell tower ("Toki no kane" or Bell of Time).

Stone Lantern, Ise Jingu

Sub-Shrine at Geku, Ise

This opportunity to visit Ise was unplanned, so only a simple pocket camera was at hand. This is certainly a place, however, where simplicity feels like a virtue.

In the Village at Naiku, Ise

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sub Shrine - Geku (Ise Jingu)

Jingu was established to honor the goddess Amaterasu-omikami, who figures prominently in Japan's creation myths. Her mirror is said to be held at Naiku, the most sacred of the sites.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Ise is the tradition surrounding its buildings. These were first erected about 2000 years ago, using the methods of the time with only notched and inlaid wood with no nails. Every 20 years, the buildings have been fastidiously dismantled (the wood is recycled for distribution to other shrines throughout Japan) and rebuilt using the same traditional methods. This serves to preserve the techniques by passing them down among generations, but is also consistent with the celebration of impermanence that plays such a profound role in Japanese philosophy and aesthetics. So much for the great western cathedrals, seemingly built to last forever (in defiance of nature).

Common people are not permitted to lay eyes on the most sacrosanct of the buildings, and no photos are allowed near them. Some of the more minor shrines like the one shown here, however, demonstrate the same style of roof.

Friday, January 01, 2010

At Ise Jingu

Ise Jingu (known simply as "Jingu") is considered Japan's holiest Shinto shrine. It consists actually of a series of 125 shrines, spread over a wide area around Ise, in Mie Prefecture. The two main locations for pilgrimage are Naiku and Geku. This tree is near the entrance at Naiku.