It was autumn, I had just turned 28, and I was traveling across the country of Japan from about 100 kilometers north of Tokyo to some 500 kilometers west of it with Trish, a woman I really liked, but was smart enough to just be friends with me.
Although only her first year on the JET Programme relative to my third, she spoke fluently in Japanese (unlike my oft botched writing attempts here in English) as a CIR (Coordinator of International Relations). Traveling with Trish, it was the first time I had ever traveled in the country and knew exactly where I was and what I was seeing.
You think I jest, but it was the truth.
These were the days just before the Internet became a thing - back when people used guide books and maps and redheads.
Kyoto-shi (Kyoto City) in Kyoto-ken (Prefecture of Kyoto) has over 1,000 temples on the tourist tour trail, and because I was a smart guy, I was smart enough to let the smarter Trish plan our itinerary.
That freed me up to just concentrate on being the muscle... so that she wouldn't be hassled by guys (foreign and Japanese) from trying to get in her pants. She had a boyfriend back home which prevented me from doing the same.
Muscle... ha... it was just security... and I hope companionship...
Our first stop was Higashi Hongangi (東本願寺), the Eastern Temple of the Original Vow.
What a great name. For a proper idea of just how large it is, over by the far right bottom corner, two people can be seen. The place is friggin' huge.
|Yup... sometimes I can take a good photo. Not only was I born in the year of the dragon, but my kanji-fied Japanese name was An-do-ryu... peaceful-leader-dragon... so I like dragons.|
In 1602, as a means to establish his power over even the religion/philosophy of Shin Buddhism, he split up the Shin Buddhist sect in two - the west and the east. It worked.
The thing is... before Tokugawa took over, Oda Nobunaga - powerful warrior who fought alongside Tokugawa - had actually burned down the original head Shin Buddhist temple Ishiyama Honganji in Osaka due to that temple's interference in politics.
It was the fourth and last time the buildings had been burned down... the previous three owing to just bad luck, while the last one in 1864 was done on purpose owing to the Buddhist sect's political interference.
|This coil of rope was actually made from human hair, donated by local Kyoto women back in the 16th century.|
Anyhow, what Trish and I saw, however, was a cluster of buildings - known as Ohigashisan (お東さん, Honorable Mr. East) that were built in 1895 after a fire had taken out the main complex.
I am pretty sure the current design followed the original design, but don't quote me on that.
|A look from inside Higashi Honganji out to the main entrance gate.|
In the days before digital cameras made darn near everyone able to take semi-professional photos, I was still using a 50mm camera, a flash, and unforgiving film. In those days, for you young un's, when you snapped a photograph, the non-professional often had no clue if he/she had a "good" photo or not.
Trish and I snapped photos together just in case the other faltered. So what you see here and in subsequent blogs about this trip is our combined efforts.
I was pleased with my framing, but not with my inability to use a flash.