Fushimi-Inari, Byodoin, MIHO museum

November 2006

Little girls ready for shichi-go-san (7-5-3, a festival where children of 7, 5 and 3 years go to a shrine to thank and pray for a healthy and happy future free of sickness and misfortune. The woman at the left holds 3 baloons, the one on the right three bags, probably with "thousand year candy" sticks, which represent long life.

Fushimi-Inari. Long and winding paths through the hills, all covered with red torii. From Wikipedia: The torii gates are all donations from individuals, families or companies. The Inari spirit is considered to be the protector of grains, especially rice, and has thus historically been associated with wealth. Company officials often make offerings to Inari shrines in the form of barrels of rice wine (sake) or torii gates. Torii gates are wood and are replaced about every ten years.

Indeed I have seen a lot of torii with company names inscribed. One said something-something-tokyo-megane (megane=glasses) and one said something-something-engineering.

After visiting Fushimi-Inari, we went to Uji for the Byodo-in. In the Kyoto magazine I read an article about the japanese money (see here for pdf) and apparently, the 10yen coin features a picture of the Byodo-in. We arrived a bit late, but still just in time to enter and see the temple.

At night is should be even more spectacular, but unfortunately they were closing and the lighting of the front side of the temple was not that good...

This is a shot through the entrance tunnel of the MIHO museum. The building is a work of the famous architect I.M. Pei and situated remotely in the mountains. The bus-drive from the station took a little less than an hour, first through the village, then through a valley and finally a bit up the mountain. The museum entrance looks ok, but not very special. Then you buy the tickets, put away your luggage, get outside again and walk to a tunnel. On the other end of the tunnel a suspension bridge is attached and only then you get to the actual museum.

The museum collection was maybe a bit small, but the audio guid compensated this with very very long descriptions and background information about almost all items. Sometimes quite interresting, but just way too long. Its architecture however is probably the museums main attraction.