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Travel Japan — Byodo-in Temple

After visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine and getting all energized, I traveled to Byodo-in Temple.

Just now I looked it up online and found there is a half size replica temple on the island of Ohau. I’ll have to see it some time when I am on Ohau.

The temple in Japan, is a World Heritage site, a relic of the Heian period (800 to 1180 A.D.). It is built without nails under Chinese influence. It is meant to look like a phoenix landing at the water with his wings outstretched.

I took this picture from the side. To the right is the ‘tail’ of the phoenix and to the left his head.

This is taken facing the phoenix.

Turning to my right, I can fit in a shot of the phoenix’s elaborate, outstretched wing.

It was inspiring. This was one man’s chapel. What a beautiful place to meditate!

This tree stood on the property.

The Japanese like to prune their trees so they narrow toward the top to increase the sense of perspective.

Thank you for looking.

XD

© 2011 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved

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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in Abundance, garden, Japan

 

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IF THIS IS MONDAY, ER TUESDAY, I MUST BE WRITING ABOUT JAPAN

My first Saturday morning in Japan, I was scheduled to go to Tofukuji Temple. My feet hurt. After covering my blisters with band aides, I now had a second set of blisters next to the first ones.

I considered not following my itinerary and taking the day to shop. I had no idea what the places I was going to were, and didn’t know if I would like them.

When I saw that the following Monday was a whole day of shopping planned for me, (amazing planning by my tour co.) AND that Takashimaya Department store was on the way today, I decided to follow my itinerary.

The last time I went to Japan, one of the people on the tour recommended I get myself to Takashimaya Department store when they open. I did and what a thrill, it is. When the first customers walk in, all the employees are at their stations and say good morning and bow to you. I rode the escalator up and got bows along the way so much that I felt like Queen Elizabeth. I wanted to video tape the experience so I could post it here.  When I went inside with my camera running to tape the bowing and greeting; my sense was that my videotaping was a social error. Not wanting to make any more blunders than need be, I stopped taping. Here is a picture of  the welcome given by an employee just before opening the doors.

Next, I got myself to the station for a local train line. It was my first train ride on my own. When I got inside the station, there wasn’t any English. I realized to travel in another country where you don’t know the language, you have to be willing to feel stupid.

Being dyslexic, I am no stranger to that feeling. I tried pushing buttons on a machine and succeeded in having the station master come out to see what I was doing. I showed him in English where I wanted to go and he pantomimed how to buy the ticket. It is very easy once you know.

I was off and arrived at my destination station. I walked to Tofukuji. When I go to places I haven’t been before, I don’t know what exactly I am looking for. It’s all a surprise. I started by chasing down every possible turn. So, after taking three turns and backtracking, before finding the one I needed, I changed to thinking the next turns would be apparent. So now I went too far up a hill, until I found a person to ask. My feet were screaming at me.

Was it all worth it? OMG, yes. Tofukuji is a beautiful Monastery. Truth is, I was out of sorts when I got there. In a way, I am glad I was, because I got to feel more and more connected to my peacefulness as I walked through the gardens.

Shanti, shanti, shanti.

© 2011 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Abundance, garden, Japan

 

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TRAVEL JAPAN – The Tea Ceremony

One of the prime things I wanted to redo in Japan was the tea ceremony. Esprit travel arranged for me to attend the tea ceremony at Daitokuji Monastery.

First we went to a sub temple, Zuiho-in for an informal tea ceremony with the Abbot. It was another couple and me and our tour guides. My guide Kiyo interpreted.

Here is a photo of the Abbott. No photos are allowed during the tea ceremony.

The Abbot at Zuiho-in

The calligraphy and flower arrangement chosen for that day.

Besides the historic, cultural, beautiful and spiritual aspects, well probably because of the spiritual aspects: it is fun.

The Abbott is totally present and humorous. After serving us our tea sweets that he made with a nattokinase center, he told us about his daily routine. He rises early and chants for half an hour, then he does housework for two hours and then tea cermony and Abbot duties.

He suggested we get rid of our couches. Kiyo told me he is against them. I guess to prevent ‘couch potatoism.’

I told him if I got rid of my couch, my husband would be sitting on it.

He said I needed to make sure my husband took ten deep breaths before I served him breakfast. I didn’t tell him that I don’t serve him breakfast. He told me that I wield the ‘stick’ in our relationship. You could have fooled me.

I know what stick he is talking about. Once before when I was there, the Abbott showed our group the stick they use to whack monks who fall asleep during services. He showed us how placing the stick at your back induces good posture.

Now this Abbot he looks terrific. He asked how old I was and I gave him the age I felt, (jet lag and all), 135.

He is in his 80’s. He attributes it to the respiratory benefits of chanting and all that exhaling.

He admired my Japanese mulberry socks. I told him my grandchildren wanted them but I said no and kept them for myself.

Kiyo told me, he suggested that she take me to a certain temple. We went there but it was closed. Kiyo told me they serve a special Japanese desert there. I never got back to try it but I did buy some chocolate mochi on Saturday, in case that took care of whatever experience the Abbot suggested for me.

Zuiho-in has beautiful gardens, including this dry garden.

The gravel is meant to simulate water.

This garden has references to the cross and Christianity. This temple was founded by the “Christian Lord,” Lord Otomo Sorin.

And a new bathroom with a toilet seat that lifts up as you enter. It has all the amenities and even an uneven floor to massage your feet as you walk on it.

And fragrant plants outside the window.

 

The Abbot chose a blue lacquered tea bowl for my matcha. He picks a unique bowl for each participant. Usually it is tied to the seasons.

It was a deep navy blue color. I never have seen one like it. The Abbot asked me why I was there and I said I wanted to return to Japan before I was too old to get back there. My trip was consumately satisfying. I am content.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2011 in Abundance, Japan, Uncategorized

 

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TRAVEL JAPAN – Tenryuji Temple

After leaving the Imperial Villa, I went to the Arashiyama district to visit Tenryuji Temple.

It has beautiful gardens surrounding a pond with a trail around the pond and through the woods.

 

 

I sat for quite a while enjoying the view and the carp swimming.

This old tree is supported.

These stones are meant to represent a waterfall flowing into the pond.

People came and went and I stayed.

An older teen boy asked me in perfect English, with a British accent, if I was there by myself. I said yes, that I was there before and wanted to see it again.

He said the day his school class came to this World Heritage site, he had an attack of appendicitis and had surgery instead of a class trip. He was there now, for the first time.

I told him, I was planning to go to a flea market next but I wondered if it might be canceled  because it was raining. He took out his cell phone and made some calls and said it would be there rain or shine.

This was greatly appreciated by me. I wanted to go and see what they had AND it would have been a bummer to miss it.

 

© 2010 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2010 in Abundance, garden, Japan

 

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TRAVEL JAPAN – Katsura Imperial Villa

My second day in Japan found me at the Imperial Villa. You have to have permission to go there. I appreciate that Esprit Travel and Tours got that for me.

You also need to be there and waiting at 9 AM or you are out of luck.

I arrived early and was admiring the beautiful grounds when it started raining. A very stylishly dressed Japanese woman didn’t hesitate to come over and hold her umbrella over me. I felt very touched by this gesture.

I showed her I had my handy dandy plastic garbage bag, raincoat with me.

They counted us as we entered the gate and counted us again when we went out on the tour and when we came back.

The Imperial Villa was built in the 1600’s for the Imperial family. Besides a residence for them, it has gardens and tea houses.

A path winds around the property that has been thoughtfully designed. The tree at the end of this path has been purposefully placed there to prevent you from seeing the lake and gardens beyond until later.

A stand of bamboo.

 

This garden spot is planted at a waiting area for guests so they can enjoy it.

 

A lake was sculpted out and the excess earth was mounded up so this tea house has views of the mountains and water.

 

This river rock makes you feel like you are at a river bed.

 

Tea houses have a small opening so you can humble yourself and swords do not fit.

 

A lovely garden view is framed by the opening.

 

There are many stone lanterns, all different.

 

The area for heating water in one tea house.

 

This tea house celebrates the industry of farming and keeps the fields as the view.

 

This field, near the royal family's residence, was used for archery. The trees were planted to keep the archers spaced or maybe it was to see how far the arrows went.

This center post is noted for it’s grace and effortless beauty.

This tea house has a water view out the right window and a mountain view out the left. It is set for viewing the moon as it rises over the water and reflects off it.

What other architectural examples, that use nature to their advantage, do you know of?

© 2010 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2010 in Abundance, garden, Japan

 

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TRAVEL JAPAN – The Master of Gold Leaf – Part II

Hakuya Noguchi, a 5th generation gold leaf master

This post was started and posted on November 30. This is a more complete post here.

In the afternoon of my first day in Kyoto, Kiyo took me to Gold Leaf Art,  the museum of Noguchi-san. I was going to see how he designs obi with gold leaf. I expected to find that he takes gold leaf and presses it onto fabric and then uses the fabric to make obi. The reality was much more interesting than I imagined.

When I walked in his workroom I said,

You have the sun in here.

The sun was shining and these obi with gold leaf were catching it.

Noguchi-san uses gold leaf and other metals for different colors.

The pieces of gold or silver leaf are made by putting a small piece of precious metal under a paper and pounding it thin. It ends up this size.

He uses brushes made out of woman’s hair.

This block of wood has tightly packed hair running through the entire thing. He ‘sharpens’ it like a pencil as it wears down.

He uses tweezers and tools to gently maneuver the leaf into place. He often uses his breath to move it ever so slightly.

In this picture, the ovals in the design on paper, will end up as circles on the obi. Noguchi-san has to adjust the design for the elongation that will happen as it is woven.

This finished obi with precious metals –

started out as a design on paper similar to this. This one in the picture has been sent out to a master cutter who cuts the paper, (impressed with metal), into threads. He leaves the border uncut. That way the threads stay in the correct order for the design.

The weaver takes the threads one by one and weaves them into an obi.

In the foreground of this photo is a picture of an ancient gold leaf screen. Experts have puzzled over the unique pattern in the gold leaf. It was not known how it was created.

Noguchi-san was able to reproduce it exactly. There is a book in the works detailing his findings. My understanding of what he did follows.

Noguchi-san gave me this piece of paper. It is used for pounding a small amount of metal into leaf. The metal ends up this size when it is pounded as thin as it can go. The edges are not squared off. It’s like rolling a pie crust, it rounds out.

This paper can only be torn in one direction.

By tearing the paper or the gold leaf, you can create more nearly square corners.

If you turn the leaf or paper so the ‘corners’ face out, and fill in the triangular shaped openings, then you have more of an even square coverage for working large areas.

Noguchi-san did it with gold leaf to show me. When he filled in the triangle areas, a gentle pressure makes the leaf adhere to itself, (again, like pie crust).

The Gold Leaf Art Museum is housed in one of the most photographed traditional Japanese style houses.

It has a garden in the center of the building.

And a garden to look out at while you have tea.

Noguchi-san’s son is also a gold leaf artist. Both artists have their work on display and some items for sale.

Gold Leaf Screen

Another screen and art work.

I am honored to have been there. It was such a joy to be surrounded by such beauty in so many forms – the people, the gardens and the Gold Leaf Art. I hope you get to go there some day and see too.

© 2010 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2010 in Abundance, garden, Japan, Uncategorized

 

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Travel Japan – Day 1 Lunch at Izusen

This flower greeted me on my way into Izusen. It is a vegetarian restaurant at Daitokuji Temple. They serve the food in red lacquer bowls called teppatsu. The elaborate style of eating is called teppatsu-ryori.

We ate inside sitting Japanese style and this was our window view.

The first serving was this:

At 6 o’clock in the picture is I believe fried tofu on a little stick and at 5 o’clock is a chestnut. At 7 o’clock looks like a mushroom wrapped, but I could be mistaken. I forget what was under the porcelain lid to the left.

Tofu in some shoyu sauce and garnish.

The colored leaf in the center is gluten and that may be fried gluten at 12 o’clock. There is seaweed at 6 o’clock and some yummy vegetable between that and the snow pea, the top layer skimmed off tofu at 9 o’clock. I liked everything I was served at this meal. I am not vegetarian, but this was an excellent meal in terms of taste and the variety of textures and flavors the Japanese are famous for .

Two of my favs, I think it was rice with mushrooms on the left  and vegetable tempura on the right.

Pickles, a part of most Japanese meals. They are varied in crunchiness and taste.

Soup, it likely includes tofu.

Rice.

Tea was served with the meal and  plum wine.

At the end they all stack.

The bathroom sink has bamboo in the bottom.

There is outdoor garden seating too.

I would eat there every day. The menu changes with the availability of seasonal items. It cost 3150 yen or about $37.75

© 2010 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2010 in Abundance, Japan

 

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