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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kyoto-gosho Imperial Palace

Next up on the adventures of Trish and Andrew in Kyoto, is us visiting the Kyoto-gosho (the Kyoto Imperial Palace, 京都御所).

This is where the emperors of Japan used to live... until the Meiji Restoration of 1867, and when the emperors moved to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in 1869.

This was when the official power of the emperor was shifted from Kyoto to Tokyo.

When was the Kyoto-gosho first built? Your guess is as good as mine. The closest I can determine is sometime in the Heian-jidai (Heian era) of 794-1185AD. It was supposedly constructed on the same design as the palace located in the previous seat of power in Nara. 

When the first Kyoto-gosho was destroyed in the 1100s, it was rebuilt... destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed... but always moving to new locales around Kyoto... until this one was built in 1855... then the emperor left and forgot to take it with him. 

Located within what is now Kyoto Imperial Park (京都御苑, Kyōto Gyoen), a park pretty much in the middle of Tokyo, the two effervescent travelers from Tochigi-ken took in the sights.

I'm pretty sure that the past few years of my life have been less than effervescent, but back in 1992 when I took this trip, I was pretty genki (energetic)... more so because I was with Trish who was the same.

Although, if she were to allow me to sleep in until noon, I would, because I can be incredibly lazy or fully functional on a little sleep.

The current Kyoto-gosho was only built in 1855, reconstructed after a fire had burned it down. Even then, it had moved from place to place over the centuries, even previously being in a place called Nara.

Despite the emperor moving to Tokyo (formerly Edo in the pre-1868 era) , when it came time for the  coronation of the next two emperors (Taisho and Showa), they held the enthronement ceremonies back in Kyoto... though with ascension of the current emperor in 1990, and all future coronations, the Tokyo Imperial Palace is the place.

While once tourists could only visit the Kyoto-gosho on guided tours and with advance reservations, people can now just show up and take a look around the grounds - though no one is allowed to enter any of the building.

Yeah, English tours are available, and though I was loathe to ever think such things, the fluent-in-Japanese Trish was my tour guide.

I have to admit that while I am a huge fan of Japanese architecture, the Kyoto-gosho was underwhelming...

Sure they were fantastically old compared to anything I had seen in Toronto (but not Quebec City), knowing that the buildings were only 130+years-old was a bit of a let-down.

Even in my tiny, rural hometown of Ohtawara-shi in Tochigi-ken, I visited the home of my Board of Education superintendent... a lovely 450-year-old place that was as clean and neat as a museum, but used everyday by my boss and family.

Anyhow... to me, the faded vermilion-like color of the buildings made me think it resembled Chinese temples too much - not that there's anything wrong with that in China... but this was Japan. I wanted red.

As such, when I looked at the architecture, all I saw was red, as in China and vermilion.

Then again, my own knowledge of colors while decent, was off. The architecture at the Kyoto-gosho was orange-y. Not vermilion. Hey... that's what I thought 25 years ago... and the fact that I still thought that way until I actually looked vermilion up on-line will tell you how my thinking had been skewed all these years.

I'll be honest... when I was taking photos, I didn't know exactly what was the main thing I should be shooting... so the main image at the top of this blog is one from wiki samurai archives. Yeah, I know it looks like it was going to rain in that above shot... but Trish and I had sunny skies to match our nauseatingly sunny dispositions.

So... here's some photos of the Kyoto-gosho grounds and architecture. We probably should have taken that tour...

Trish still found time to have some fun at this lonely set of swings on the palace grounds... I assume it was put in for the tourists and not for the emperor... though that would have been pretty cool, too.
I really like Japanese roofs... I know that sounds weird... but it's true.
A tour group of Japanese high school students.
Roofs... one above where I was shooting from, and the one I was shooting at.
Look at all the very different roofs! Fantastic! Eight different levels in this one shot!
The last shot of roof architecture for a while... but don't worry - there's more!
Roofs, sure! But look at that blue sky! Ame otoko (Rain man) no more!
Okay... I can see how I may have gone overboard with the roof-thing... no I can't! Exciting!
Hmm... Trish is doing her best "My Name Is Earl" routine with the camera. Eyes closed, that is. It was a very funny TV show. Every time Earl had his picture taken - he managed to have his eyes closed.
A boring shot? Naw. This is Kyoto... city of 1,000 temples... even though this is Kyoto-gosho, you are going to see the architecture. This shot incorporates my little trick of using a foreground overhang to frame the background image I am really shooting. Get used to it... I do it often.
Just some boring trees over a gate? Maybe... but that Japanese silver maple has brilliant red leaves... but do you see the rounded bridge in the background? I don't know if I saw it when I took the photo, but it surprised me just now.
Tomorrow... Nijo-jo. Plenty more shots of roofs and vegetation!

Andrew Joseph

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