Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, November 11, 2005

2005 School Trip, Day 4

The final day has come! And still without major event! Yes, as far as school trips go, this one has been AMAZINGLY quiet. I'm not sure whether to feel relieved or disappointed. As always, the final day's schedule consists of a few group tour stops in Kyoto followed immediately by the journey home.

Our first stop is at a place called Shoguntsuka (Shogun's fortress). Back when the capital was first moved from Heijo-kyo (Nara) to Nagaoka-kyo and then to Heian-kyo (Kyoto) at the tail end of the 8th century (thus beginning the Heian Era, not to mention over 1000 years of Kyoto being the Imperial capital), there were a lot of problems. Not only were there a lot of bizarre accidents (blamed on hauntings...apparently the main reason the capital was moved in the first place) but there was already quite a lot of intrigue among the aristocrat clans. To help keep order, the Emperor appointed his most trusted military captain to top leadership of all his forces, a newly-created rank with an all-new title: shogun. This first shogun was then posted to a watchpost atop a promontory offering a splendid view of the entire valley. Guess what? The view there is still fantastic, even though the sky is gray today.

I’m sure the view would be a heck of a lot better at night, but there isn’t much room for complaint at this point.

Next we visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace, seat of the Emperor until the Meiji Reformation at the end of the 19th century, when the Imperial capital was moved to the shogunate capital, Edo (which was then renamed Tokyo). The old palace is still vitally important, as we soon learn. Visits are possible only through special appointment, and security is very tight. Actually, it is even tighter than usual today for a very surprising reason. None other than President Bush himself is coming for an official visit very soon. As a result, our tour is clipped and rushed, but our guide is a real kick. His talk is easy to follow and a blast to listen to. This is actually my second visit here, and this time it is better even if it's hurried. The fact that our kids are on their best behavior wins some unexpected praise. (The last time I came here was exactly the opposite. I was with a disaster class, their behavior was abominable, and we got chewed out.)

We're ahead of schedule, so we make a quick stop at Higashi Honganji (lit. “East Main Temple), a vast temple ordered built by (arguably) the greatest of the dictator shoguns, Ieyasu Tokugawa, in the 17th century just to show off (and to outdo the Nishi Honganji [“West Main Temple”] that was built by his recently-defeated rival, Hideyoshi Toyotomi). It is currently undergoing a major renovation, so its precincts are a bizarre combination of old and new.

Here is the old...

...and the (temporary) new.

Finally, as always, our last stop is Toji temple, which has the tallest pagoda in the country. Whatever the historical and/or spiritual significance of this temple, which technically is as old as Kyoto (though the current buildings mainly date from the 17th century), to me it signifies saying goodbye to Kyoto and heading home. Depending on the year, that can either bring elation or blues. This year the air inside the two worship halls seems particularly musty and irritating, and my allergies quickly go nuts. That definitely makes me feel kind of blue, and I guess it's only appropriate. As I said before, it has been a quiet trip, but a good one.

Goodbye, Kyoto! I'm sure I'll be back soon...maybe even next year!

Now back to the real world. Tomorrow is the Kashima Seaside Jazz Festival...


  • There are not enough fish in this story.

    sopzdsm - The official manual for diagnosing sopz.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 1:18 AM  

  • blah blah fish fish blah blah blah more fish, shark, sole, gold, angle and clown fish
    there you go fish.

    one phish
    red phish
    two phish
    ten phish ....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:18 AM  

  • One fish,
    Two fish,
    Red fish,
    Blue fish.

    This one has a little star,
    This one has a little car...

    But that one has xtmgz(?)

    By Anonymous Dr. Seuss, at 9:33 AM  

  • What a load of crap.

    By Anonymous Some phony Snabulator, at 9:37 AM  

  • Great trip! Glad you missed the Bush visit (and protests).

    Moody visits a Kyoto doctor -
    Moody: "My allergies are acting up and I have terrible headaches!"

    Doc: Where does it hurt?

    Moody: In the "temples".

    mlbijnh - reaction of people to this comment after eating too many fish.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 12:04 PM  

  • There are too many fish in the comments.

    mynwosch - A rare Hitler book on personal hygiene.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 3:50 PM  

  • It's "a bunch of crap" and the wrong blog, no, I better check again, yes, I'm right, it was a bunch of crap. FISHSIFHFSIH.

    There's three fishes in this post if you can find them, and a fourth for good measure.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:21 PM  

  • HEY ... I SAYS PHISH ... NOT fish ...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:22 AM  

  • So what did the "Haunting" look like when you sneezed it out?

    ypebd- yippeebeedee?

    By Blogger Vulgarius, at 9:01 AM  

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