Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Right Outside Your Door

I spent the second day (and nearly 40 subsequent hours) in Japan under water. It was not long before I realized that one of the few persistent things in Japan is water. The rain picked up and did not stop. Before long, my shoes were sponges, my umbrella was an IV drip for the unfortunate floors of Kyoto station, and I learned the importance of newspaper (really only for drying shoes).

At tourist traps and middle-of-nowheres alike, my attention was consistently attracted to water, the way the Japanese responded to it, and the way it responded to the Japanese. Take Royan-ji temple for example. Along with the fantastic rock garden were several architectural reactions to the rain. I was fascinated by the copper (I think) ornament hanging from the spout of a gutter attached to the temple. This beautiful display of rain mixing with Japanese art can be seen in the short video below.

After this experience at Royan-ji, I started to notice very small displays of a beautiful reaction to nature everywhere in Japan. Most of these structures were designed to route water through gardens, keep water off of streets, or protect the Japanese from torrential downpours. As we returned to Shunko-in Temple (I am much obliged by Taka Kawakami's hospitality), I found the following video clip above our western-style-room's door (looking through the transparent awning). After filming this example, I learned my first lesson in Japanese visual culture; sometime the most beautiful experiences can be right outside your door.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the "tsuyu" (rainy time) has come early this year, it appears. It typically arrives in June, which (not coincidentally) rhymes w/typhoon ...