Friday, April 9, 2010

Yoshitsune's Foot steps Part 1

I didn't mean it but I started my tracking down of Yoshitsune by the beginning of the story. But let's look back at yesterday's near disaster first.

Kyoto! Kyoto! Kyoto! As some of you might remember from my previous trip, this city always failed to impress me. It just doesn't do it for me. I will refer to it as the Disney land of temples. Just like the Vatican, it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. Oh! Sure it is beautiful. Full of historical site, cherry blossom, culture... but FAKE! FAKE! FAKE! Well, I shouldn't be too harsh here, definitively not as fake as Vegas.  Fake on a different level! Here, they sell you history! They don't allow you to appreciate it. They sell it to you, with a day pass, a lucky charm and an omiyage. Sure there is nothing wrong with that. So does the rest of Japan. But here to make the matter worst, try doing it while fraying your way amongst thousand of dumb tourists!! There you got it. A nightmare.

So that's how our day started. In the over zealous crowd of history-go-getter. We made our way to Nanzen-ji. Grand, beautiful... no different than the other 100 temples and shrines. We walked along the canal and enjoyed the Cherry Blossoms. Had a little Hanami of our own by the art gallery. By then I had enough. Time for me to head out of town. Somewhere far, somewhere still meaningful... Marie headed to the Gold temple (Which I had already visited on my first trip there). I jumped on the train to Mt. Kurama.


It took me about 30 minutes to reach Kurama station. From there I started an 1 hour hike up the mountain. It is hard to describe the hiking trail. There wasn't much to it except beautiful tall trees, bamboo and cherry blossoms. Along the path, many shrines or stone markers. The main temple, not the biggest, not the richest, not the most beautiful one of Japan. But from it front steps, you could enjoy one hell of a view over the surrounding area!!


The reason I wanted to go that far, was not only to get away from the tourists (did I forget to mention, that on my way there a saw but a handful of them) but to visit the site where Ushiwakamaru (Yoshitsune) grew up. That temple was the one where he was sent as a toddler to study.


At the main gate, after paying your 200 yen, you are given a map that marks all the important places along the path, including the water stream Yoshitsune drank from, the stone where he marked his height and the field where he learned his swordmanship skills.

After wondering for 2 hours around that holy site, I went back to Kyoto and met with my sister at Gojobashi (once more ignored by the tourists) where stands a stone scene of Yoshitsune and Benkei's mythical fight.

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