Sunday, August 16, 2009

Below the Fox's Lair

Friday afternoon, Deep Micheal and I explored south Kyoto, Fushimi in particular. We got off the train in Tamababashi and headed uphill into the sweltering suburbs. Where the green began was the site of Momoyama Castle. Originally built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it fell eight years later. Floorboards stained with the blood of the defenders can be seen in their current use as ceiling panels at various temples around Kyoto. I'd seen this distant castle many times from town, but never realized that it has two keep. A short walk away is the tomb of the Meiji emperor. I can imagine the procession as it carried his remains up an incredible set of stairs. Below these is Nogi-jinja, dedicated to the hero of the Russo-Japan war who disemboweled himself upon the death of Meiji. There is an interesting display here, as well as a room of creepy Daruma dolls which remind me of those bouncy heads from 'Spirited Away' As we spirited ourselves away, I was once again flabbergasted at how rich (and deep) Kyoto history is.

We whiled away a nice afternoon, wandering the temples, canals, and storehouses of Fushimi. Deciding it was time to carry on with the business at hand, we settled into a microbrew for the third part of our interview series. When I asked Micheal just how deep is Kyoto, we simultaneously broke into a Bee Gees song. And not for the first time. Stumbling back to the station later, we again followed the canals, this time lined with light.

Sunday, I took in the areas to the north and south. Starting below Otokoyama, I walked in the shade of the hill, over the tile paths that bisect old shops and homes. Newer, blander homes rose up too soon. Where it grew old again I recognized as part of the Kyo kaido, which Miki and I walked until it was lost to suburbs. I found a large stroll garden, which once belonged to a famous Edo poet whose tea party guests dined from small compartmentalized boxes that were the original bentos.

I then took a train to Sumizome. Near the station I was surprised to find a small Spanish cafe, who did a nice beef stew and Heineken. I was puzzled as to why it was here until I saw a Catholic church that had Spanish roof tiles. It reminded me of Santa Barbara, and then further reminded me that missionaries were the missing link between Japan and the California Coast, pushing their dogma on the natives who eventually melded these with their indigenous beliefs into a unique bespoke package. Unrelated to all this was a guy in a T-shirt that said, "Against the 70's." Mike Watt Fan? I eventually made it to Fushimi Inari shrine itself. The neighborhood just to the south is especially nice, with a couple of lovely yet unpretentious temples and spooky hiking trails that lead where the tourists never go, to an ancient realm of chipped stone graves and shaded waterfalls. I wonder at what dwells there, especially during these days of Obon. And what will remain after tonight's fires?

On the turntable: Nouvelle Vague, "Bande a Part"

On the reel table: "Sword of Doom" (Okamoto, 1965)


Mikey Lambe said...

Don't think I mentioned this before but "bespoke" is one of my absolute favorite words.

ted said...

Yeah I know, I read it on Deep Kyoto last week. which is why I weaved it in, to create a special bespoke post that is winking at ya.