Monday, November 21, 2016

Kyoto Excursion (Hannah)

Kyoto is not a new place for me. Living so close, it’s only a thirty minute or so train ride to the thick of the city, full of shops and tourist traps. During the excursion, I started focusing more on the people at the sites, rather than the sites themselves.
I put that new skill into use as I explored a part of Kyoto I had never been to before. In Northern Kyoto, that is more residential than touristy. I only saw one other obvious foreigner on my way to find Kami-Goryo Shrine.
Outside Kami-Goryo Shrine
Supposedly it was the place where the Ōnin War began, sparking a ten year civil war. I chose Kami-Goryo mostly because of its historical context; I learned briefly about the Ōnin War in a Japanese History class and hoped I could learn a little more. I went there expecting it to be fairly popular, considering that not only was it the starting point of such a turning point in Japanese history, but because the Imperial Family during the Heian Period worshipped the kami residing there as the guardian of the Imperial Palace, according to the sign directly outside. There was even an advertisement for it in the subway station, which only supported my hypothesis.
Subway advertisement for Kami-Goryo
I was very wrong. Maybe it was because it was ten o’clock on a Saturday morning, but the shrine was practically deserted. Over the course of my thirty-minute to one-hour observance, I saw a total of ten people come and go, about ninety percent of who were there to pray. A mix of men and women, the youngest being about thirteen and looking like her mother had dragged her there, the oldest a woman with a cane there to pray. Those who noticed me looked very surprised to see a foreigner at the shrine. A couple people were tourists, probably from other parts of Japan. They took photos and prayed briefly but also bought things from the small souvenir stand at most temples and shrines.
One of the buildings through which you can see slightly two women praying. They left soon after.
The site is fairly small compared to sites like Kiyomizudera but it was still a fairly medium-sized shrine, well kept in the front but could probably use a new deposit of gravel. Nestled in a residential area, I wanted to know how likely it was that, unless you were looking for it, only the locals knew about it. I couldn’t find anyone to ask, so for now my question remains unanswered. I continue to wonder how to answer the question without directly speaking to someone, and I suppose it would warrant another visit at a different day and time to see if it remains as uncrowded and hidden away or if it is a well known tourist destination, foreigners or otherwise.
Line of torri gates near the back corner of the site. Likely wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't quietly followed a middle-aged man (likely) doing cirucumambulation.

1 comment:

Millie Fan said...

Compare to the other city, Kyoto is more likely to a traditional place where full of lots of old Shrine. I'm so curious how many Shrine actually in Kyoto and what types of historic stories they have.