Last weekend  some friends took us to the Aichi Prefectural Ceramics Museum. The first section was of Japanese ceramics. Then there was a section of Korean, followed by Chinese ceramics. The museum also had examples of early pottery from Iran, Pakistan, Vietnam and central America. For me this was a couple of really indulgent hours. 

There was a chronologically arranged display, with the earliest vessels being large Jomon period pots from 3000 BCE.

Also, to my delight, a lovely, simple vase by Hamada Shoji.

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At the beginning of last week we travelled to Kyoto where we caught up with Trish and Alan, friends from Victoria. Trish suggested we go to the temple at Kurama in the hills north-west of Kyoto and walk there from the village of Kibune. The walk is marked 'easy' on the Inside Kyoto website. However, I would not recommend it to anyone with knee problems or a history of heart condition. The climb from Kibune village to Kurama was a long almost continuously ascending staircase.

This photo shows the short staircase up to the shrine at Kibune.

Alan, Trish and Laurie in the shrine forecourt.

At the beginning of the climb, still looking spry.

Amazing old vines along the way.

I thought this blossoming tree at the Kurama station looked particularly spectacular.

The blossoms were so recently opened there was not a petal on the ground.

Back in Kyoto Trish also recommended a visit to the house museum of Kawai Kanjiro

Kawai was one of the four founders of the mingei (folk-art) movement at the beginning of the 20th Century. It is the most beautiful and comfortable house, built with traditional techniques, that I have come across in Japan. The house is in the area just down the hill from Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto. It has not been modernised and to my surprise has very generously proportioned rooms. 

At the back of the house there is a large climbing kiln that was used in the early part of the 20th century, as well as a smaller kiln. The old work studio has a number of works by Kawai and a display of what I think must have been part of his personal collection. All works in the mingei style.

The principal ground floor room looking on to a courtyard garden is of generous proportions and has a warm peaceful atmosphere.

Later while walking  on a street in the area below Kiyomizudera Temple, another perfect blossoming cherry tree...

...and this postcard picture view further along the same street. It is the Yasaka-no-To pagoda at the Hokanji Temple. Previous pagodas on this site had been destroyed by fire. This was last rebuilt in 1440.

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Here is Laurie beginning the climb up the steep street of Magome, the first town on our four-day walking tour along the Nakasendo.

What can I say...?

We finally arrived at the top of the first pass, after almost three kilometres of continuous upward slope. 

Two days later we climbed to the Torii-touge Pass between Yabuhara and Narai.

This was not quite what we expected.

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When I first came to Japan in 1992 I took ikebana classes with one other student. 

This week's ikebana was hastily put together in her house with apricot blossom from her garden and a pine branch gathered from the roadside. Thank you Junko and Takashi for your hospitality.

Greetings from Christopher
8th April 2017

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