Monday, November 28, 2005

Eikando Zenrin-ji Temple

Zenrin-ji Temple has more than twelve hundred years of history. The temple has produced a number of high priests of great ability and one of particular importance was Eikan (1033 - 1111) under whom Zenrin-ji Temple flourished. Eikando (永観堂) therefore derives from Eikan who was highly respected and honored by the people of that time.
The temple is famous for the statue of the Amida Buddha looking back over His shoulder. According to the story, one early morning on February 15th, 1082, when Eikan was walking around the altar chanting nembutsu (chanting by repeating Amida Buddha's name), suddenly Amida Buddha came down the altar and began to walk ahead of Eikan. So antonished Eikan could not move, then the Amida Buddha turned back over His left shoulder to look at him and admonished, 'Eikan, you are dawdling'.
Now, it is the best season to enjoy autumn leaves (momiji) in Kyoto. One can now enjoy the beautiful show of colors in gardens, temples or even during mountain drives - usually a daytime event. Momiji lovers not only flock to temples on a warm sunny day, but also when temples are illuminated as maple leaves color the night sky.
A look at the red momiji highlighted by artfully-placed lamp against the surrounding darkness. Six hundred and fifty lights shone upon approximately 3000 maple trees in and around the temple precinct of Eikando.
Illuminated by soft lights, it created a feel (aura) that is different when viewed under sunlight.
Transquil and peaceful atmosphere throughout. When I felt the light - I somehow felt Zen.
My ex-dorm mate friends and I enjoyed the light up that night. Zhang Tao (China) and Yacchan (Japan).
The love birds - Yacchan and Roeun (Cambodia).
Menaka (Sri Lanka) and Tomo-chan (Japan) like good buddies.
The walking path leading to the temple beautifully lighted with cylindrical lamps
After the temple visit, we went to Zac Baran, a jazz bar cum restaurant. They gave me a farewell treat. From left to right; Menaka (Sri Lanka), Agnaek (Holland), Constantine (Germany), Renato (Peru), Yacchan (Japan), Zhang Tao (China), Yumi-chan and Tomo-chan (Japan).

Saturday, November 26, 2005

47th November Festival

The university hosts a variety of activities for alumni, parents, students and the general public from time to time. The Kyoto University November Festival (京都大学十一月際) is to raise money to financially support club activities. The festival started a few days ago from the November 23rd till November 26th.
Student organizations set up food stalls and try to make business from it. There are alot of vendors and alot of food.
On the first day itself, hundreds of students attended the festival and we made our way through the crowded walkways. Festival-goers ate, drank and listened to music. Lively it was.
The festival is open to the general public. Apart from fund raising, it is also to provide some sort of publicity for the university.
One of the most happening spots on the festival day, on stage students seen here doing some juggling demonstration and performance.
A group of students singing acapella and entertaining the crowd.
From food to nice performances and then fun games as well. Here two persons each make a fist. Well, the famous hand game of 'rock, paper and scissors'. If the player wins five consecutive times, he/she will receive 10,000 yen as a reward. She won three out of five and won a teddy bear instead.
Poor kids ! In this game, players throw balls of soft dough towards the board hoping that it will strike one of those faces !
One can also make money - students sell goods that are second-hand. But it is really hard to make money when the goods are cheap.
But after all, there isn't any market fee required. Students wishing a place must arrive early to reserve it in advance.
I went to the festival with Eddie and Roeun (right). Bumped into Andy (left) and Ueda-san (middle). I had a great time - the 47th Kyoto University November Festival.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Back in Business

I bet some of you still remember the Ishigaki Stone Wall Cafe - a student designed demonstration project that started when the university announced a plan to knock down the wall to make a new entrance to the main campus.
After the students proposed an alternative solution and the university agreed on the new plan, colorful billboards and signs are put up again to promote student activities.
Nothing new about the Prime Minister's controversial visit to the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo (corner top left). In Japan, the opinion of Koizumi's controversial annual visit to Yasukuni Shrine has been divided. For some of those who support it, it is merely viewed as a private visit by someone who wants to pray in a Shinto shrine, remembering the Japanese who died in the wars in the past years. Meanwhile for some of the opponents, Koizumi's visit is unconstitutional, as the Japanese constitution stipulates the separation of religion and state. Also, because Koizumi is a prime minister, his actions always carry political messages even when he calls them private ones.
Even President Bush's visit to Kyoto was greeted by protest prior a summit of 21 Asia-Pacific leaders in Pusan, South Korea.
I particular like the design of this student-run board to promote the astrology club (I think). High above us the planets and stars spin - why won't we get together and gaze at the sky tonight ?
More cute boards stretching along the walls. I think these are to promote the upcoming 47th November Festival.
I took this picture last week. The 47th November Festival starts today - November 23rd till November 26th. I will most likely go join the crowd later for some festival fun !
Different bands played music every evening before the festival. Some were good but some will too probably give you a threshold pain in the ear.
The North Campus of Kyoto University - along the road lined with ginkgo trees.
Image hosted by
During winter when the ginkgo trees bare all - naked under the sun and only the branches on view.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mostly Autumn - Falling Leaves

Bought a book lately. IF LIFE is a GAME, THESE are the RULES by Cherie Carter-Scott.

Rule One - You will receive a body. You may love it or hate it, but it will be yours for the duration of your life on Earth.
Rule Two - You will be presented with lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called 'life'. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or hate them, but you have designed them as part of your curriculum.
Rule Three - There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation, a series of trials, errors and occasional victories. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that work.
Rule Four - A lesson is repeated until learned. Lessons will be repeated to you in various forms until you have learned them. When you have learned them, you can then go on to the next lesson.
Rule Five - Learning does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
Rule Six - 'There' is no better than 'here'. When your 'there' has become a 'here', you will simply obtain a 'there' that will look better to you than your present 'here'.
Rule Seven - Others are only mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.
Rule Eight - What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you.
Rule Nine - All your answers lie inside of you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.
Rule Ten - You will forget all of this at birth. You can remember it if you want by unraveling the double helix of inner knowing.

If life is a game, do you know how to play ?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Over the Weekend

What I did just over the weekends ... went out and took pictures around the neighbourhood. Met a friend from Nara and walked inside the university compound.

Autumn is, without a single doubt, my favorite season of the entire year. The cold that arrives after the hot and humid summer, you start to sense that the world is sort of slowing down for the year - the cold of relaxation.
And you start to notice the leaves changing colors. Autumn weather conditions favoring the most spectacular color displays are warm sunny days and cool, but not freezing, nights.
A few hard frosts can cause the leaves to wither more quickly and drop to the ground.
Over the weekends, many people just work on and enjoy their own outdoor painting projects. Perhaps I should have one done too.
Some people enjoy the first signs of yellow. Others prefer the crazy mix of colors when orange pops out. And some say the deep reds and purples of late fall are their favorite. Hold your breath and watch, the best pictures yet to come.
Historical Exhibition Room (Kyoto University Clock Tower Centennial Hall) - archives' documents and pictures on the history of Kyoto University are available for reading to the public.
The ground plan of Kyoto University in 1939.
One of the exhibits - an old style of student dormitory - geshuku.
The Clock Tower - the most notable structure of the Kyoto University campus. It was designed by Goichi Takeda, the university's first Professor of Architecture, and completed in 1925.

Coming soon ... Kyoto University 47th November Festival.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Four Seasons - A Natural Beauty

The Japanese make a lot of the fact that they have four distinct seasons - as if it was something unique to their country. Cold, dry winters and hot, humid summers can be found all over the world but there are certain seasonal treats that only Japan can offer.

Spring is not really my favorite season. I mean flowers are nice but I am allergic to pollens. This picture was taken at Hikone Castle, Shiga Prefecture. Hikone Castle was built over 400 years ago. An original castle, that survived the post-feudal era without undergoing destruction and reconstruction.

The cherry blossom (sakura) is Japan's unofficial national flower. Hanami literally means 'flower viewing', however, it commonly refers only to 'cherry blossom viewing'.

Summer in Japan is hot and humid. At the weekend, people flock to the beaches or to the relative cool of the mountains. Summer is also the season of festivals and hanabi (fireworks). Shown is Kitano, a city district at the foot of Mount Rokko where many Western business people settled down in the second half of the 19th century after the Port of Kobe was open for foreign trading.

The Byodoin temple was first a rural villa owned by Fujiwara Michinaga, a powerful regent and the model for the hero Genji in Tale of Genji. Then, it was converted into a temple in 1052.

I must say that autumn is my favorite season. Nice weather and splendid scenery. And the koyo (red leaves) of late autumn are an often breathtaking sight.

Tokufuji is a Zen temple, one of Japan's most spectacular (and crowded) spots for autumn leaf viewing.

This picture was taken in Ueno Park, Tokyo, two years ago (2002).

I must say that winter is cold but I rather have long chilly winter than hot sweaty summer. And the snows of winter are eagerly awaited by skiers and snowboarders.