Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Even though the temperature was chilly, the sun was out most of the day and so an unplanned visit to the famed Kyoto Imperial Palace is justified. Tim and I just finished a Bible class at Doshisha University and it seemed appropriate to give Tim a brief tour of the nearby palace grounds. Actually, I've never been inside the actual gated and guarded palace. I remember going twice or thrice to the pebbled outer area inside the walled perimeter -- something that makes you curious to know of what's inside when you see it while passing by in a vehicle....

We surveyed the map near the gate on the west side of the perimeter wall. We learned that prior reservation is necessary to enter the palace grounds. Surprisingly, my digital camera happened to be in my bag and that prompted us to continue our quest to see the place where Japan's history had its early beginnings.

When we went to the reservation office, we were offered a free tour with an English-speaking guide commencing at 2 o'clock. After signing a form and presenting our ID's we were off with a 30-minute window to have a tongue-scalding hot udon (wheat noodle) lunch. [Imagine waiting 10 minutes to be served and another 10 minutes to conquer everything, letting it through the unsuspecting esophagus. We needed to be at the waiting area ten minutes before the actual tour. Whew!]

Details are better viewed personally or digitally. Words aren't enough to explain the beauty of the site. So, here's a link to the official Imperial Household Agency to find more information:


Here's a miscellany of what I've seen:

1. For security or other reason, there are many areas that remain restricted to the public.

2. A branch of an old tree was cut off to save its life. Apparently, it was infected by a bacterial gall that dried up the tree. Up close, it looked like an ugly devastating cancer that attached and grew on a limb (I might show you the photo some other time).

3. Among other interesting facts and trivia that I've learned, the roofs of buildings were made of pine tree barks, arranged in thick layers and fastened with bamboo nails! Pine trees are in abundance within the palace grounds -- thousands of them! I didn't hear well what the guide said about the pine tree except that it's called matsu in Japanese. The verb form of "matsu" is to wait. The lady guide quickly added that pine trees symbolize "waiting...waiting for the Holy Spirit!"

PRAYER: "O, Lord God of the heavens and the earth, the God of the nations, please pour out your Holy Spirit over Kyoto and over Japan so that the people would hear the Gospel of your Son Jesus Christ and be saved from their sins. Amen."

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