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Saturday, February 16, 2008
Super Happy Random Trip
After a brief trip to Australia in November last year, to visit friends and family, I returned to Japan and embarked upon another little trip. This trip, like many of my trips in the past, was completely random. I had not made a single hotel reservation in advance; had not checked bus and train prices, or times; and I wasn't even sure where I wanted to go. All I knew was I wanted to see something new, and have a bit of an adventure (as cheaply as possible).
Trip summary: Arrived at Narita airport, missed my connecting flight to Fukuoka (on purpose). Caught a bus to Shinjuku and spent the night in an internet cafe. Next morning caught a bus to Kyoto, spent the night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese style inn). The following day rode a rental bike around the city, stopping at Nijo Castle and Kinkakuji, then caught a train to Kobe where I spent the night in a capsule hotel. Then I trained it to Himeji to see the very famous Himeji Castle.
A section of the outer moat
Nijo Castle is different from other castles in that it has no imposing main structure or towers. Instead it has two rather unimpressive-looking main buildings: the Ninomaru Palace and the Honmaru Palace. I was allowed inside the Ninomaru Palace, but was not allowed to take photos. So I'll do my best to describe for you what I saw.
I had had a very specific reason for wanting to come to Nijo Castle, but by the time I got inside Ninomaru Palace I had forgotten all about it; until, that is, I was about halfway through the palace when I saw an elderly man softly bouncing on the worn floorboards.
But I'll get to that in a moment. What first caught my eye, as soon as I entered the main hallway, were the brilliant murals on the walls and sliding screen doors. They predominant colours were gold and green and blue and yellow. The imagery was awesome. There were maple trees and cypresses; tigers and leopards in bamboo groves; wild geese in rice fields; herons in willow trees; pine trees and peacocks; pine trees and hawks; and mountains and clouds. The background was always a rich golden colour. These murals were on every vertical surface of every room the hallway led us past.
As I mentioned above, I was about halfway round the palace when I came across an elderly man bouncing softly up and down on the spot. The floorboards were making a bird-like chirping sound...and then I remembered my reason for wanting to come in the first place: the nightingale floors.
The floorboards were intentionally constructed in such a way as to produce this sound, (said to be like a nightingale) when walked upon. It was an alarm system designed to protect the emperor, or the shogun, or whoever the hell it was living there, from assassination attempts. It was said that, in the dead of night, no one could cross the floor without making it sing like a nightingale. Now, I don't mean to brag, but as I was walking around, not one creak emanated from the boards underneath my feet, let alone the singing of a nightingale--that, my friends, makes me very ninja indeed.
The next nine photos are of the grounds of Nijo Castle
Kinkakuji (The Golden Temple)
I don't know much about Kinkakuji other than it's gold and famous.
Himeji Castle is said to be one of the top three castles in Japan.
I first circled the castle on my rent-a-bike...like an assassin, or, if you prefer, a ninja. I assessed every possible angle of attack.
This is now my favourite tree. I forget its name but it made quite an impression on me. The red leaves were so bright, they seemed to be pulsing with a divine energy. I'm not religious, but standing underneath those trees I felt very close to "God".
Is that Santa or the Grinch? The little boy is Takuna. You might remember him (probably not) from my Christmas story from last year, I mean 2006.
This year I also went to a children's hospital. Peace! You've gotta do the peace sign when you have your photo taken in Japan. It's the law.
And thus we come to the next stage of the evening: the para(-lytic) nap.
Here I am at the shrine "praying". I do not fully remember this moment but I appear to have achieved the ultimate zen goal of 'nothingness', of no cognitive activity whatsoever. Neglecting the mental faculties seems to come naturally to me...
OK that's it for now. Till next time!
投稿者 Eyezaku 場所 1:49 am