akujunkan: (Default)
Twenty-four post-thesis hours later found me as drained and blah as when I'd just turned the thing in, so for a bit of a pick-me-up I headed out to Kodai-ji, which is a Rinzai Sect zen temple in the Higashiyama District. It's a sub-temple of Kennin-ji, which I have always thought does one of the best jobs of both a) being a functioning Buddhist temple, and b) creating an inviting environment for visitors.

Kodai-ji doesn't seem to have much going on in the way of the former, but man are they putting effort into the latter. They actually had a native English speaker take care of the explanation brochure (plus, unlike most tourist sites, it contains all the information in the Japanese-language brochure), and they've put two guides in each of the buildings in the complex to explain things to visitors.

Which is awesome in and of its own right, but even better when you throw a gaijin asshole into the mix. )

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
...about Bamiyan, an ancient trading outpost in Afghanistan, and one of the most westerly Buddhist sanctuaries. The Taliban blew it up in 2001, long before good ole Shrub and Laura were into giving two shits about the country, but I remember being crushed, along with many of my classmates in EALC. Anyway, the Afghani government is considering restoring it, which I think would be a wonderful idea (as well as a way to keep the pressure on world governments to keep the Taliban in check; no one wants to pour tons of money into a project only to have it blown up again).

Bamiyan is one of the places I hope to visit one day (along with Dun Huang in China), and I really am optimistic that it can be restored if the political situation is stabilized. I didn't always believe that to be possible, but after visiting Po Nagar in Vietnam and especially Angkor Wat and the Bayan, I'm convinced it's possible. I am, however, confused by the NYT's statement that any new building (as opposed to restoration) at the Bamiyan site would disqualify it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I've seen stone masons cutting new blocks for the Baphuon with my own eyes, and I was under the impression that Angkor Thom was still on the UNESCO books.

And on a slightly related note, what is with Asians and screwing up historical sites? I'm looking right at you, Mr Hiro Yamagata, and your proposal to "to mount a $64 million sound-and-laser show starting in 2009 that would project Buddha images at Bamiyan, powered by hundreds of windmills that would also supply electricity to surrounding residents." Or, for that matter, the Korean group that wanted to use electric trains to haul tourists around Angkor. Oi.

Anyway, the article is here, so go check it out.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
...that Schrodinger's Cat is a modern day koan.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
Astute readers may remember me threatening to do this late last September. Well, I'm a woman of my word, so let's talk Kenninji. If guidebooks were anything to judge by, it's nothing special, but it is perhaps my all time favorite temple in Kyoto. Kennninji was the first Zen temple built in said city and belongs to the Rinzai sect, which is cool because it's the sect where they slap you around with sticks to enlighten you.

Perhaps this is why Kenninji rocks my socks so terribly much.

The first thing of note about Kenninji is that it's got some really beautiful Zen rock gardens. You can actually sit down and enjoy them because unlike Ginkakuji or Ryoanji, Kenninji isn't well known.

Cut for image-heavy like woah Kenninji Love. )

In closing, this temple rocks.

That will be all.

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