I think I’ve mentioned before that I am currently reading The Tale of Genji. It dates from 11th century Japan, a time and place with different moral values to ours. I’ve just got to the bit where Prince Genji has kidnapped a 10-year old girl mainly because she reminds him of an old flame. The museum dedicated to the book is at Uji, not too far from Kyoto and we spent a couple of interesting hours there.
It was a good walk from the station to the Museum on a bright, warm day. The gardens were very pretty too, more Autumnal colours.
The exhibits were interesting: some old copies of the book, a wall displaying the story ‘in a nutshell’ and some items dating roughly from the period of the story.
Unfortunately for us, there were very few captions in English, so while we could admire the artistry of the paintings and the crafsmanship of the ox-drawn rickshaw, we didn’t learn much about them. Also: no photos.
We did watch a 30-minute film, in Japanese of course, but there was no way they could do justice to the novel in a mere half an hour. Still, it’s fascinating to see a museum dedicated to just one book.
We walked back through Uju, visiting a shrine and a temple. Are we shrined and templed out yet? Almost!
Ujigami Shrine is, of course, another World Heritage Site.
We heard a steady drum beat and thought it sounded like the dragon boat races we used to watch in Kingston. After crossing the Asagin Bridge, we saw two small dragon boats in a short race. It had to be short because if they’d rowed much further, they would have gone over a weir.
The recommended route around the Byodoin Temple gardens was followed by most people. The golden phoenixes on the roof are relatively newly restored, but the orginals are on display inside. These date from the early 11th century. Older, even, than the Tower of London.
The local café in Uji was, we agreed, the best we’d found so far. The coffee was delicious, as well as very pretty, and the egg salad sandwich was magnifico.
The next café, the following morning, was good too, very nice toast. I do miss decent bread, so it’s nice to find some twice in a row!
We spent some time in old Kyoto, venturing up to the roof garden above the railway station. Then: we were up on the 11th floor watching the cruisers below. No, that’s not it, we were looking for breakfast there but ended up in the aforementioned café instead.
It was a short walk to Higashihonganji Temple, the biggest wooden structure in the world, it says. And it is a huge temple. No photos inside which is a shame, but the hall is huge. But it must be very cold in Winter, we thought.
There’s a large rope made from human hair as conventional rope at the time just wasn’t strong enough
This temple is also famous for its bell, which was rung for us on the hour. The reverberations last as long as the final chord in the Beatles’ A Day in the Life.
We then started walking towards Fushimi Inara Taishi with Google Maps on our phones each giving different directions! Mine seemed to know best, so we followed its route, over the river, towards Inari. It started raining a bit so we caught a train for the last section. But what a shrine that is, well worth a visit. The place is full of foxes and gates.
Foxes and gates: yes, that sounds like it ought to be a board game. I’ll get onto my lawyers rightaway to patent the idea.