10/31/10

Shanghai Sightseeing Bus

I had a social weekend. On Saturday I took a new colleague sightseeing on one of the double decker Shanghai Sightseeing buses. You stop at your leisure to visit sights on the loop and take the next bus to continue to the next destination when you are ready. We walked on the Bund, stopped at the historic town, visited the Yu Garden, passed by Xintiandi, crossed the river and walked around the boardwalk in Pudong, ate at a vegetarian restaurant and returned home.
A traditional instruments performance at Yu Garden.
View of the Bund from Pudong

On Sunday I had a full day, from yoga in the morning, meeting friends for brunch, studying mandarin and going to a lesson. I did not feel like organizing my room in the evening, so that took my time this morning. I feel a bit guilty that I end up usually being a five day ashtangi, but that is how it is. I meditated, though.

10/30/10

practice towel help

I went to practice and did the second half of primary and the first few of intermediate. Bamboo Knight's Supta Kurmasana adjust was great. He attempted to adjust me in Bekasaha, but my left leg doesn't bend very well, so I could not breathe from pain as he adjusted as is normally done in this pose. I wonder how long it will take for the leg to heal? One year? I practiced across from Lady 'Smores. On my left, when Matty Vinaigraitte was doing her Supta Kurmasana, I put her towel in her hands so she could pull the hands closer to a bind behind the legs. On my right, Madame Calumette was attempting the same and I placed her towel also in her hands. I felt like a sly towel adjuster. The Knight saw me giving the towel to Madame Calumette and said it was not necessary. Hehe. Just trying to help.

Rokuonji Temple, Kyoto

The last temple I saw on my second day in Kyoto was Rokuonji Temple. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The place was established from 1185 to 1332 as an aristocrat's country estate and taken in possession in 1387 by a shogun who turned it into a n elegant villa called Kitayama Palace. In 1422 it was converted to a Buddhist temple by the shogun's son. The first abbot was Muso Soseki. The Golden Pavilion and temple gardens where restored during the Edo period  (1615-1867.)

Map of the area.
Did I count as a group or as an individual?
The temple garden incorporated Mt. Kinugasayama as background scenery. Rocks where installed in the existing pond. The Kinkaku or "Golden Pavilion" was constructed overlooking the pond. It has shingled roofs, with the second and third floors entirely gilded with gold leaf. Each of the pavilion's three stories represents a different architectural style. The first floor is of the palace style, the second floor of the samurai-house style and the third floor of the Zen-temple style. The pavilion was destroyed by arson in 1950 by a person who entered the Buddhist priesthood enchanted by its perfection. An exact reproduction was completed in 1955.
Observations: My feet where tired by the afternoon and I was glad to have figured out how to use the bus system to get around Kyoto. After having seen so many beautiful, intimate temples with so few people around, it was disappointing to be with crowds seeing the Rokuonji Temple. It felt like going to see the Eiffel Tower- everyone had to go and get their picture taken with it in the background. There where throngs of students, busloads of tourists. In one corner, a Latin American lady was holding court around her relatives, keeping them enthralled with stories about the business acumen of Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. How that topic related to this place was beyond me, but the strangeness impressed me enough to remember it. What was the connection? Gold? There were school children throwing coins at a Buddha statue on the floor in the hope of having good luck.

10/29/10

Daisen-in Zen Temple, Kyoto

Daisen-in Temple is one of the sub temples of Daitokuji Temple. It is one of Kyoto's most famous Zen gardens. It was founded in 1509. The main hall is the original building built at the time the temple was founded. The temple and its buildings is recognized as one of the oldest Hojo buildings in Japan. The garden closely resembles ink wash paintings of Zen art. It is a garden of the dry landscape type, with white sand and numerous rocks placed in a narrow space. The placement represent mountains, waterfalls and mountain streams. Zazen is offered here weekly.
I stumbled on this temple while walking the grounds because I saw a Canadian couple discussing it. They mentioned to me that the garden was exquisite but that no photography was allowed. The staff where emphatic about this, having me read disclosures. The following images are from postcards.
I found the following poem, which was on the side of one altar to be very inspiring:
A Song of Gratitude
by Soen Ozeky, b 1932.
The whole family, harmonious and devout.
Aware of debts to our parents and ancestors.
Revering in nature, grateful to society.
Always humble, learning from others.
Able to give, demonstrating kindness.
Making one's motto: "a bright life."
Overlooking other's faults, correcting one's own.
Moderate in speech, not getting angry.
Gentle, kind, honest.
Let's appreciate the joy of life.
Patient, peaceful.
Careful in speech.
This leads to a long life.

Here is a picture of the poem's author, Soen Ozeki, from the flick account of this practitioner.

Daitoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

Daitokuji Temple is the main temple of the Rinzai Zen Buddhism sect. The complex is very large, comprising 23 sub-temples, of which only a few are open to the public. It was founded in 1315 by Kaitokokushi and supported by Emperors Hanazono and Godaigo. The temple was restored in the 15th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, other warlords donated buildings and most of the buildings in existence today where constructed then.

The main structure follows the typical pattern of Zen temples and contains many treasures including paintings, writings and ancient documents. It is said this is where Zen married art. Calligraphers and painters found expression here. Founders such as Juko Murata (d. 1502), and Sen no Rikyo (d 1591) developed tea ceremonies here.

This monk traveled in style in a mini cooper.

The stone paved walks are beautiful.

These are various of the numerous sub-temples within the compound.

Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto


After visiting Nanzen-Ji Temple, I followed a path along a narrow canal called Philosopher's Walk. It was about a mile long.

There where many cats, none of which where skittish. I could get close to them to photograph them.

There where many homes with elaborate gardens along the path, and a mausoleum.

This is someone's backyard.

This strong guy courted young girls to carry them old-style, pulling them on his cart. In my opinion, it must be a hard sell, unless the girls want to marvel at his strength.
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