Monthly Archives: June 2008

dazaifu…

this a bit out of synch, seeing as I wrote about last night first, but anyway:

Chris has turned me on to Dazaifu. I catch a pretty suburban feeling local train fromTenjin to Dazaifu. When I get there and hit the main street it seems such a tourist trap I almost get back onthe train, but it is Sunday after all. I wander up the street and find a pleasant restaurant and have soba and vegetable tempura. It is the very first time in Japan that I have to explain that I am vegetarian all by myself – up to now friends and organizers have been babysitting me, spoiling me rotten. Armed with my 5 words of Japanese, which fortunately includes “Yasai” or vegetable, they quickly get the picture. In Kyushu people are so eager to help out, it is really a pleasure despite the formidable language barrier. A red bean paste bun, which seems to be a local specialty, from some crack cooks who are working a dozen double jaffle irons in super quick time (half the pleasure is just watching them crank it out), is dessert.

Eager to get away from the hordes, I go to Komyozenji temple, a Zen experience Chrishas recommended. It is a wonderfully quiet, the gardens at the back a haven. My camera’s mirror makes so much noise when I shoot I feel like throwing it away. I miss my old rangefinders, quiet, discreet. Be great if NIkon took the processor out of my D3s and put it into a rangefinder!

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What I like about the temple, so in character, is that none of the monks are visible. You just feel their presence, in the big assembly hall in front of the Amitabha Buddha altar, in the meticulously kept garden, in an empty room designed just so…. On the viewing balconyJapanese tourist sit quietly, taking it all in in the truly zen spirit –or at least so I think: some turn out to be snapping pictures with their cell phones

Then on to Tenmangu Shrine, the Shinto shrine which is the main attraction of Dazaifu for Japanese. It is, as usual, a combination of beauty, piety, superstition and a lot of lucky charm stalls. Every kind of person is here. I happen on a small blessing ceremony at the main shrine, the priest and attendant completely formal, the family struggling to maintain posture and composure.

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I am glad I went to the Zen shrine first, which is less popular with the masses. I ask Chris about the aggressive merchandising at Shinto shrines, and he shrugs it off as due to being run by committees who have big maintenance and rebuilding budgets to fund.

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In the Zen temple there isn’t even an obvious donation box….

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Back in Tenjin, it’s late afternoon and once again we have a parade of styles and looks. It seems the pressure of conformity and robot like work in school makes everyone into a fashion rebel once they finish their formal education!

some more pics from miyazaki – fukuoka

I will write some more on the plane and post from Bangkok, at Fukuoka airport right now. Just wanted to post some images:miyazaki-dandies.jpgthis was from the last night at Miyazaki, a couple of dandies happy to pose in the night life area!kimono1.jpgand my first image of fukuoka…. My new friend Chris, who is living in Fukuoka (since about 13 years) takes me on a little tour of Fukuoka. One night isn’t enough, and it is Sunday and quiet. We walk thru the red light district which is dead, Sunday isn’t the day. Most premises apparently are off limits to Gaijin – the benefits of having an American miliraty presence. We walk and look and talk about Buddhism (he is into Zen), life, styles. I get some new insights (no time to formulate right now in the waiting lounge!) We end up at Canal City which is kind of mall meets lagoon. There are also a few stalls, and of course the whacky young Japanese busy conforming to the rebellion, but they are easy going rebels.vendor.jpg bit of a contrast to yesterday afternoons zen temple in Dazaifu, but even that was in contrast to the Shinto shrine. OK more on this later.they are calling the flight..

Bye Miyazaki. Hi Fukuoka….

Yesterday and last night I explored Miyazaki’s entertainment and night life area again. I run into a little boutique, literally under the stair case. Although there is no sign, the owner – Tadshi-san, assures me that there is a name: Eskees, (I think). With his cat, he makes for one of my favourite portraits of my trip. tadshisan.jpgthis morning we left the hotel at about 8:45, my flight isw at 9;30. ehat a cruise Miayzaki is, I check in at 9:10, go through security straight thru to boarding, and we take off. This is how travel should be! 45 minutes later its Fukuoka. I somehow manage to get to the international terminal, drop my bags off and set out for Dazaifu. more tomorrow. dead tired!