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Published: February 14th 2011
A friend of mine arrived for a 12 day visit here in Osaka from the Philippines. She couldn't come at a worst day of the year. In my 4 years living in the city, snow is very rare, thus it's kind of strange that there was heavy snow on the day after the night of her arrival. The whole tour schedule I prepared for her visit had to be changed.
We were supposed to go to Kyoto on the first day but ended up having to spend the day at the mall. We then braved the chilly cold weather the next day at Universal Studios Japan.
For her trip to Japan, I was really looking forward to bring her to Kyoto. The prefecture is Japan's ancient capital, and it's know for its numerous ancient historic monuments, designated as UN World Heritage Sites. I went to Kyoto once before but I missed going to Kinkakuji temple. I believed many Kyoto visitors would consider it as the most photogenic among all the Kyoto temples.
So when me and my friend visited Kyoto on the 4th day of her trip, we headed straight to Kinkakuji or the golden pavillon. As most
famous structures in Japan, Kinkakuji's beauty lies not on massiveness or opulence. Kinkakuji is a small temple covered in gold leaf, standing on a pond. Its gold color was surely striking, but what makes it more charming, was the way everything around it seemed to blend with each other perfectly; the pond, the small patches of land in the water, the greenery, and even mountains as backdrop. Even birds, maybe egrets, as if were on cue to fly near the structure, to showcase harmony between man made structure and nature.
Our next stop was Kiyomizu Derra, meaning temple of pure water. Maybe it is worth mentioning that the site made it to the top 20 in the search for the New 7 Wonders. It is a huge wood structure, but very unassuming with its brown color. It is said that the entire structure was constructed without using a single nail.
There is a feeling of sacredness in this place, with the constant sounding of the gong by the people who are praying, and the presence of really old looking bronze Buddhas in various forms. Sadly, but quite understandably there were no pictures allowed inside. Which made me
remember this rude Latin guy who was standing behind the no photo sign, rudely taking photos and video of people who are sounding the gong and in deep prayer. I wonder how this guy would love to be videotaped while he is taking his communion or doing his confession with a priest. Praying in an un-western style manner maybe strange or alien to tourist, but if there are already sign not to intrude on their prayers, then please respect their privacy. As I don't recall seeing any Buddhist taking pictures of people making the sign of the cross.
Kiyomizu Derra, with its bland brown feature may not be appealing, when all the trees surrounding it were also brown and dead from the winter cold. But as I have seen in pictures on the web, this brown bland structure seeemed to stand out quite amazingly when the cherry blossoms around it are in full bloom, or when the autumn colors are in full display.
There are still numerous sites in Kyoto that I would definitely want to see. Kyoto I came to realize is the best place that doesn't only show, but rather show-off the country's great ancient history
lovely Japanese tourists wearing kimono
and really emphasized one of their tourism theme stating, "natural beauty".
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