Saturday, November 14, 2015

3 weeks in Japan: Part 3 - Kyoto

By Mike Daikubara in Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan for over a thousand years (before moving to Tokyo) and they also managed to keep the 'traditional Japanese look' throughout the entire city. It's a beautiful place being a tourist destination for not only people from over seas but for the locals as well.

It's been over 2 decades since I last visited Kyoto but I have many connections to this city. My brothers family lives here and so does my wife's sisters family. Kyoto is also considered a sister city of Boston. It's good to be back and to be able to explore this place for a few days.

The train ride from Osaka to Kyoto was really quick. 
Walking towards the in-laws house we passed by Yasaka Jinja - a well maintained shrine with lots of tourists as well as people praying by ringing the ceiling hung bell with the thick rope.

The next day we went to go see my brother-in law Yoshimasa Ishibashi's stage performance for the opening day of the Kyoto International movie festival. He's a Film director by profession and he conducted all the stage performance for this show. It was a free event so we arrived a few hours before the performance to get front row seats (well no seats but).
This was the perfect opportunity to get some sketching done.

After a couple hours of waiting, the stage performance by Maywa-Denki Finally started. I knew about them for years but this was the first time seeing them perform live on stage.
They're quite unusual in that everything they use to create music with is hand made and also quite strange. Whole lot of fun watching them though.

As it came near the end, lots of dance performers came out on stage and the giant 'Otamatone' Robot in the back started shooting flames from the mouth. It was a blast to watch.
I'm also glad we arrived early since this place was jam packed with people!

After the show I got to meet the person from Maywa-Denki as well as Yanobe Kenji, the artist that created the giant robot. I liked their autographs with little pictures they wrote on my sketchbook for me. The 3rd signature without the picture is my brother-in laws. These were the 3 people that created this show.

The next day I was able to meet up with some local sketchers for a few hours of sketching. Takeuma-San, who I had met through Flickr conducts monthly sketch outings in the Kyoto area and I was able to meet up with them at Nanzenji Temple.

The main gate was quite impressive in size and immediately caught my attention.
For a fee, people were able to climb up to the 2nd floor balcony.

Not sure what this building was but you were able to go inside.
I had to go back to meet up with the sketch groups so I ran out of time for this sketch.

Eikando is not part of Nanzenji but was walking distance and real close.
The leaves were starting to change color and that's when Kyoto gets lots of tourists. It was already quite beautiful so I could only imagine how much more amazing this place would look.

After the sketch session, we met at a nice Tea shop to chat and to show our sketches.
I also went out for a drink with Kato-san and Takeuma-San (the 2 people on the right) and had a blast. Thank you for your hospitality Takeuma-San and Kato-San!

The next day was my last day before heading back to Tokyo.
My brother in-law told me about this impressive placed called "Sanju Sangen-do" which has 1001 Buddhist sculptures housed in it. I saw a picture and was immediate fascinated and went to go check it out.

The building was really long with a long narrow corridor inside that allowed you to see all the sculptures. I was told each sculpture had a different expression and if you looked hard, you were able to find one that looked like you. I had never seen anything like this and was quite impressed.

This place was also huge challenge for a sketcher - There were lots of people that needed to walk down this narrow corridor so there were no places to sit or even stand without being in the way of people.

In the center of the building I finally found a small standing spot right slightly out of traffic in front of the largest main Buddha so I began to sketch. 1.5 hours from Pen to Color,  I was completely wiped out from doing this sketch - physically and emotionally. It must have been the amount of people that were in close proximity to me as well as being surrounded by 1001 Buddhist sculptures.

I was quite happy to be able to get this sketch done though since right as I was finishing this up, a monk came to me and whispered to me that sketching was not allowed here.

Before leaving, I got another quick sketch. I wanted to see how many sculptures I could sketch but eventually ran out of energy and patience....

I headed back to Tokyo that night feeling good about the sketches from Kyoto but also completely drained..

~ To be continued to part 4.

1 comment:

MiataGrrl said...

I just sketched at Sanju-sangendo a couple days ago! I didn't know sketching wasn't allowed! In fact, I was feel smug that I could sketch when photography was prohibited!