July 1, 2003 11:54 PM   Subscribe

A Year in the Life of a Kyoto Neighbourhood. Actually, more like about six months, but still a worthwhile project.
Related :- the Play of Light, Kyoto and Nepal at night.
Also :- seasons in the Natural History Museum garden, London.
posted by plep (4 comments total)
Great links, as per your usual fare plep! And what Kyoto thread would be complete without a link to our resident expert's site - planetkyoto's Alive in Kyoto - it's really a fascinating site. Pretty too!
posted by madamjujujive at 1:21 AM on July 2, 2003

Thanks, plep. I actually stayed for a month in Kyoto a couple of years ago, about five minutes bike ride to the north of where these photographs were taken. (So what with monju_bosatsu's Nepal post earlier, it's turning into a travel reminiscence day for me.) This neighbourhood is fascinating, you can see many things, including firelight performances of traditional Japanese No plays, the Kyoto zoo, and the coming of the industrial revolution in the form of the canal that linked Kyoto to the rest of Japan in the 19th century. As the canal entered Kyoto through a tunnel, it was used to drive turbines, thus introducing electricity as well.

Darwing a link between yours and m-b's post, both Kyoto and Bhaktapur have been studied as examples of urban design that reflect the cosmological beliefs of their builders. Bhaktapur as a town consists of a series of neighbourhoods arranged in two halves (upper and lower), through which the many processions of the annual religious calendar wind their precise way. And there are shrines all over the place! Kyoto was established as the imperial capital of Japan at the end of the eighth century on a completely opposite plan - a rectangular grid of streets based on series of nine main north-south, and east-west, thoroughfares, based on Chinese/Japanese cosmological thought of the time.

Although both patterns (upper/lower, and grid) are different, they were both significant for the cultures of their time, reflecting and embodying their religious, political, geographical, calendrical, and other beliefs. And both can still be seen today.

*thinks: potential FPP here?*
posted by carter at 7:56 AM on July 2, 2003

carter :- yes, potential FPP, or even several FPP's. Your comment has made me think of a number of other 'sacred' towns - Pagan in Burma, Angkor and Borobodur, and beyond Asia - Salisbury, the Vatican, Macchu Picchu. Something to ponder, certainly!
posted by plep at 9:52 AM on July 2, 2003

Nothing sacred about Machu Picchu (despite what wants you to believe); recent research has shown that it was a summer retreat:
"Machu Picchu was simply a royal estate," Burger explains. "You can think of it as the Inca equivalent of Camp David."

Casting it as something less than a spiritual center of the universe will, no doubt, sit less than well with New Age gurus, who have created in Machu Picchu a curious amalgam of Eastern and Andean mysticism—"Orientalism wearing a poncho," as one wag put it. But even if the site was merely a summer retreat for Inca royalty that had more in common with the Hamptons than with Jerusalem, Machu Picchu will lose none of its perennial allure.
posted by languagehat at 12:22 PM on July 2, 2003

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