Sunday, September 04, 2005

More travel blogging...

Nara, Japan:

  • Murasaki is missing. This is a tragedy, as it is the only izakaiya restaurant in the immediate area that takes American Express, my "corporate credit card."

  • There is a two "new pence" coin that keeps diffusing into my Japanese coins; it feels and weighs too much like a 10 yen coin. But it's not exactly a 10 yen coin. It would be nice if there was one global money system, so folks who travelled wouldn't have to constantly fumble for the right change. But that won't happen in my life.

  • My room wasn't ready when I arrived, so, sweaty and jet lagged, I decided to finally make it to Hohryuji temple. (法隆寺) (Not that most folks who regularly reads this blog probably aren't much aware of it, but regardless, please forgive the redundancy.) 法隆寺 (Flowering of the Dharma Temple) is 2 train stops from Nara, and happens to be the oldest still-standing wooden structure in the world. It looks like any of the other temples in Nara, but, well, a bit older. What is odd - or perhaps wise is a better term- about 法隆寺 is that one part of 法隆寺 contains what seems to be a cross between a museum and a Buddhist temple; there are statues of Kannon (Avolokitesvara) and other Boddhisattvas that are "under glass" in temperature/humidity/security controlled conditions with offering paraphenalia outside the glass. This is good; what shocked me about Tiantong temple in China was the complete openness of fragile scrolls, etc. 法隆寺 was built by a Prince Shotoku in the Heian period - when the Japanese government was ruled from Nara- and there is much folklore about Prince Shotoku. What is interesting to me is the distance, though. This - two trainstops from Nara- was not, actually, like you find in Warsaw today, with the Catholic Churches "merged" with the Presidential houses. Say what you want, but even the devout Prince Shotoku must have realized that at least a spatial separation of church and state wasn't entirely a bad idea.
    法隆寺 is worth the trip; it is a huge complex, actually, almost in itself as big as the temple complexes in Nara (which were built a couple or three hundred years later than 法隆寺.

By the way, there'd be a lot more standing wooden structures in the world if people didn't keep invading each other and if people werent' careless with fires. Kiev, apparently in the 9th century, was a huge metropolis by Dark Ages standards, but it all burnt down.

No comments: