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Himeji, Kyoto and the curse of restoration

On February the 15th, we went to Kyoto via Himeji with the Shinkansen. Our goal was the Himeji-Jo, one of the most famous (maybe the most famous) castles of Japan. Whatever, as we left the Himeji Main Station we glimpsed something very disappointing: Himeji-Jo is being restored until spring 2015 and the whole Main Tower is covered by a big tent:

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Himeji-Jo

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Himeji-Jo (what we could have seen -.- )

Nevertheless, we went there. We got a guided tour in English, which was very interesting. Although the Main Tower is an impressive sight (as we saw on postcards and photos), the rest of the castle is nice to look on too.

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Himeji-Jo side buildings

We even got to see a “The Ring” like well. According to the legend, a kitchen handmaid dropped one of the precious plates of the masters porcelain. As punishment she was thrown into the well and died. At night, if you listen carefully, it is said that you can hear her counting the plates “Ichi-mai, Ni-mai, …”.

"Ichi-mai, Ni-mai, San-mai,..."

haunted well at Himeji-Jo

The following day, February the 16th, we went sightseeing in Marayuma district in Kyoto. The first object was the Kyomizudera, a temple that was built on a hill (in 1633) and for this reason is standing on up to 13m high pillars.

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Kiyomizudera Temple

Somehow people believed, that jumping from that 13m high terasse makes your wishes come true. In Edo period, 234 jumps were documented, with amazing 85% surviving (there was more vegetation beneath back then).

Let´s talk about the next object of interest, the Kodai-Ji Temple. Each building for itself was not that amazing, but the overall picture including the gardens was quite beautiful and we could see some very old buildings in original condition.

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Kodai-Ji courtyard

Maybe we sacrificed too little money the last time praying at the shrines/temples, because the last one we visited, is also being restored right now: the Chion-In Temple. This wasn´t that bad, because the main gate of Chion-In, the biggest temple gate in Japan, was not covered:

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Chion-In Main Gate

Whatever, have a picture of the tent that covered the Main Hall, to get an impression of its size:

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Chion-In Main Hall covered with a tent

During our tour, on our way from one temple to another, we didn´t get bored for sure, as those streets are famous shopping malls. You can see many historical buildings there and buy all kinds of souvenirs (“omiyage”). Here is how the streets look like:

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streets of Marayuma

For today, February the 17th, we had a reservation for the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Katsura Imperial Villa. The first was the residence of the Emperor until the Meji – Restoration, the second a country residence of the royal family. The buildings and the gardens of those two were very impressive, according to the tour guide they are among the most impressive architectural achievements of Japan and masterpieces of Japanese gardening. After entering (we had to show our passports more often than on an airport – the Japanese are very strict concerning their cultural monuments) we were overwhelmed by the amazingly beautiful insights.

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glimpse at a part of the Emperor´s throne at Kyoto Imperial Palace

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a view of the garden at Katsura Imperial Villa

Comments:

  1. Khaine

    nosey ppl need new Stuff to read :)

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