Shopping in Kyoto

Maja in japanese robeHide went home to Osaka the previous day, so Josefin and I decided to do some serious shopping in Kyoto this Tuesday. We visited numerous stores, mostly selling Japanese souvenirs, and we found some things we liked.

For instance, I bought a Japanese robe for my sister in law and my niece, and some Japanese tea for my brother. The woman who sold the robes had been in Sweden once and she told me that she knew one Swedish expression: “Tack så mycket” (“Thank you very much”).

Magazine stores

I loved to visit magazine- and book stores in Japan, ’cause i knew they always had something that would interest me (something jrock-oriented). I found Yoshiki’s biography (adorable drummer in X-Japan), but since it was completely written in japanese, I found it a bit overkill to buy it. I bought a bunch of jrock- and visual kei magazines instead.

Japanese magazines

I wish I could see Gackt and the Gazette on the magazine covers like these in Sweden…

Magazine store

It amazed me how people just could stand in the store, calmly reading magazines. Browse threw pages is one thing, but this gentlemen seemed to do some serious reading. It would never be accepted in a Swedish store, I believe. At least I feel bad when I find myself reading a magazine that I haven’t payed for.

Daruma dollDaruma Doll

Among other things, I bought a Daruma doll and a fluffy Totoro. A Daruma doll (also known as Dharma doll) is a representation of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen (a school of Mahayana Buddhism).

You paint the right eye with black ink while making a wish. When the wish finally comes true, you paint the other eye.

Totoro and Tjeburasjka

Totoro seems to be very, very big in Japan. Maybe Totoro and Asta Kaskthat’s not so surprising. Totoro figures were sold everywhere in different shapes and material.

This blue Totoro has followed me home back to Sweden.

What kind of surprised me though, is that the Russian creature “Tjeburasjka” (known as “Drutten” in Sweden) appeared here and there.

Tjeburasjka was a character in a popular children’s TV show in Sweden during the 70s, but I seem to be the only one knowing it among my friends. I used to love it as a child… I wonder what it’s called in Japan?

Split-toe shoesSplit-toe shoes

They have the weirdest shoes in Japan, and since I saw them rather frequently, I guess they are kind of in trendy now?

They are so called “split-toe shoes” and here you can see an example. I just can’t imagine how that kind of shoes can be comfortable?

At the post office

I’ve been told that it’s more expensive to pay excess-baggage fees at the airport than to post it to yourself, so I did. I can’t say it was cheap though, but on the other hand, I guess my parcel was quite heavy since I’ve been shopping so many souvenirs and magazines the other day.

Tip: If you want to save time at the post-office, do some preparations that I apparently didn’t think about. Before they can send your parcel, they need to know exactly what’s in it and what every item cost (and the summary cost). I had a big package with millions of knick knack and didn’t remember their prices at all, so I had to open it at the post-office, dig it through and guess.

Japanese graveyards

We had a graveyard outside our hotel-window in Kyoto (Hotel Alpha Kyoto). Japanese graveyards looks very special and very cramped. When you see them squeezed in between the houses, almost like a piece in Tetris, it looks almost surrealistic.

Japanese graveyard

So many people and so little space. There’s no grass or flowers like at a Swedish cemetery. I thought they were beautiful though.

Drink corners

You will always have access to fresh water in Japan.

There’s drink corners and vending machines absolutely everywhere on the streets. That’s really helpful those hot humid days in June.

Blog posts from this journey:


Shoppingday in Kyoto

30 June 2009

Today have been our shopping-day in Kyoto. I have bought so much stuff so tomorrow morning I must go to the post office and ship some it to Sweden. I mean… it is not everyday I am in Japan, so it is OK to shop like crazy…

They have so much beautiful things. And I found more jrock magazines!!! Among these; “Fool’s mate” that I have been looking for. The Gazette is everywhere in the magazines! Maybe because of their tour? I also see Ken’ichi (“L”) and Gackt everywhere. They are so adorable.

Japanese guys are sooo gorgeous. I just like to sit at the cafe and watch them. ^^ And today we met a japanese woman who had been to Sweden and who could say “Tack sa mycket” (thank you).

Tonight we will prepare our journey to Tokyo! Mata ne!

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Shrines and temples

Next day were dedicated temples.

There seem to be three major religions in Japan: Shinto, Buddhism and Catholicism and people went on pilgrimage from all over the world to Kyoto to see the temples and shrines.

Hide knew a perfect route and I believe we visited over 20 temples and shrines that day.

To get to the first temples, we had to walk a long street uphill, lined with small souvenir stores selling Japanese knick knack, fortune cats, fans, clothes etc. This is where I found my first store with visual kei stuff, so I got overly happy. Nio-monTwo Gazette posters were bought. (I believe they belong along holy stuff, btw.)

Finally up, we gasped at Nio-Mon Gate (gate of the Deva Kings). Bright red and truly exotic for a swede. Most temples and shrines are surrounded by beautiful gardens in Japan, so at this point we got a foretaste of what would come. It was very beautiful and me an Josefin ran around and photographed like silly tourist…

We continued to walk and passed temple after temple. I believe there’s 33 holy buildings in that area, so it’s a great place to visit for a foreigner, no doubt.

Kiyomizu-dera temple

The main worth seeing was the Kiyomizu-dera temple, extremely big and its Main Hall (Hon-do) has a famous verandah over a deep slope.

Kiyomizu temple

There’s a proverb saying: “To jump off the verandah of Kiyomizu-dera“, which means making a grave decision or a drastic action that’s extremely risky.

Buddha statue

The view and scenery around us was amazing. I just stood there, stared and wondered if I still were in this world. It was breathtaking.

Now and then I had to shake my head, ’cause I really couldn’t believe the world could be so beautiful.

Swedish nature is wonderful, but this scenery didn’t feel real or “earth-like”, more like divine.

I wish I could bring this feelings to you via my photos and movies, but unfortunately, the world gets quite flat and soulless on film. I guess you have to be there.


 

Sitting on the floor

It rained some during the day, but it was OK. The rain wasn’t cold and heavy as in Sweden, rather warm and gentle, and it actually enhanced the beauty around us.

As you can see on the picture to the right, and as you probably already know, it’s not uncommon to kneel in front of the table while eating instead of using chairs. I found it a little bit trying for my legs though – they need to be stretched now and then. ^_-

Jizo BuddhistsJizo Buddhists

Here and there in the nature we so those strange little stone figures dressed in something red. Me and Josefin thought they looked a little bit like gnomes, but they are actually so called Jizo Buddhists, a representation of divine bodhisattva’s (a person who have achieved enlightment and will become a Buddha).

They protect travelers, pilgrims, women and children and can be seen in many places in Japan.

Chion-in Temple

We continued to the next temple and I must say it looks a little bit strange when there’s a great gate like this next to a big busy road. It’s two different worlds meeting, no doubt.

Chion-in

The walk to the Main Hall involved a lot of beautiful stairs with high steps in stone. The rain poured down and now and then we just sat down under a ceiling to watch the amazing surroundings.

Chion-in

A big brazier was standing outside the Main Hall and people moved their hands through the incense smoke. Burning incense is a symbolic act of spiritual cleansing or preparation for approaching Buddha.


 

Sho-ren-in Temple

After this adventure, we continued to our last temple: Sho-ren-in. It’s known as one of the 5 Monzeki temples of Tendai in Kyoto and it’s head priests were originally from the imperial family. This was the only temple that we could enter like this, and even though the rooms where quite empty, we felt very honored.


 
I believe the most amazing part with the Sho-ren-in visit was the garden. It was breathtaking. So amazingly balanced and beautiful. For a long time, we just sat under the ceiling of the temple and watched its glory.

Sho-ren-in

Sho-ren-in

In the main part of the garden is a pond (Ryujin-no-ike) surrounded by three tree buildings (Ko-gosho, Kacho-den and Kobun-tei). On the south side is a basin of a waterfall (Sensin-no-taki) using the slope of mount Awata. Close to Ko-gosho is a semicircle-shaped stone bridge (Kory-no-hashi), made by two granites.

Prayers

In the center of the pond, there’s a big stone. The shape looks like the back of a dragon, bathing in the pond. That stone truly gave me inner pictures. On the westside, facing the waterfall, there’s a big blue stone used for worship.

If you ever go to Kyoto; you have to visit this temple and garden!

Blog posts from this journey:


Shrines and temples in Kyoto

29 June 2009

Today we have been visiting Shinto shrines and Buddhism temples in Kyoto. The buildings and the gardens were stunningly beautiful, absolutely breathtaking. When we sat outside one of the temples and watched its garden I thought it all was like a fairytale, too beautiful to be true.

It seems like there’s a massive amount of temples and shrines scattered all over Kyoto, they were everywhere!

The weather was great at first (warm of course) but after a while it started to rain and it seems like it will be raining for another two days at least. But it didn’t bothered me at all. It was so nice to get some cold drops on your skin when the air was so hot and humid.

When we came home, I found a Visual Kei magazine in 7/11 next to our hotel, so as you may guess I’m very happy about that. (And it was a Gazette-special! SUGOI!)

After the adventures of today, Hide went back to Osaka. Hide is amazing, my new idol. ^^ I will truly miss him! But we will meet again in Tokyo next week, so I look forward to that.

I will closure this day with a glass of vine in my bed (well, not only my bed. I seem to share it with a beautiful blond ^^). Mata ne!

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