Temples and palaces

Today marks the first Friday of 2019. I’ve been enjoying a rather peaceful week of rest in Tokyo. 2018 was a busy work year for me. I moved to Tokyo in May and started working for a new company.

This was quite a big change as I switched from freelancing to regular employment, and I switched from UK culture to Japanese work culture.

As a freelancer I was able to take a lot of time off over the years to indulge in amateur and (a little) professional photography.

As a regular employee in Tokyo time has been much more limited.

However I am hopeful for the year ahead. Now that I’ve completed eight months I feel more settled and I should be able to make better use of my free time.

During this weeks holiday I had the chance take some photos and spend some time browsing through my old pictures.

I was reminded of many happy memories, especially during visits to temples and palaces around Asia. I’d like to share some of my favorite spots.

Japan

Up first is a familiar picture from my last blog post. I live quite close to Tokyo tower which is right next to Zojoji temple (増上寺).

http://www.zojoji.or.jp/

Next up is perhaps one of the most well known temple complexes in Tokyo, located in Asakusa you may recognise Sensoji (浅草寺)by the huge lantern in the gate. Just to the west of Sensoji there are a lot of traditional restaurants; it’s a very old fashioned area. And Tokyo Skytree is also nearby.

http://www.senso-ji.jp/

The next three photos are from Nezu. This temple complex is famous for the red Torii and is a favourite spot of mine. It’s a little out of the way so there are way less tourists. It’s also a short walk to Yanaka; another traditional area which is famed for the number of cats. If you ever visit Yanaka keep an eye out for cat ornaments on the rooftops.

http://www.nedujinja.or.jp/

Kyoto

I’ve included some of my favorite pictures from Kyoto below. Kyoto has so many temples. The biggest challenge there is it can get very busy and photography becomes a challenge.

Rather than naming each of these, if you are interested in temples I would suggest having a browse through the complete list on Kyoto’s own travel website – https://kyoto.travel/en

Thailand

Thailand is a beautiful country for a cultural tour, there are so many temples. I think Wat Pho may be the most popular spot in Bangkok, but I enjoyed Wat Arun. The next two shots are taken around the ordination hall rather than the Wat itself.

I spent a couple of weeks walking all around bangkok. I can recommend an excellent book written by a journalist and a true culture / history lover – https://www.tuttlepublishing.com/authors/barrett-kenneth/22-walks-in-bangkok

While on these walks I spotted many small temples and back street areas where I could see locals and monks going about their day to day life.

The follow was taken at an interesting Chinese temple complex in Bangkok

China

From China I’d like to include Jing’an temple (Shanghai). This is a beautiful temple complex and I had a great time walking around here. I also really enjoyed watching people throw coins into the central ornament. I imagine it’s a way to pay respects.

South Korea

Seoul is where we switch from temples to palaces. The royal palaces in Seoul are strikingly beautiful. I recommend at least Gyoengbokgung and Changdeokgung, but time permitting it’s good to visit them all.

Taiwan

An honorouble mention to Taiwan. I’ve only been around Taipei. It’s not the prettiest city; due to a period of history with little building regulation, but it’s improving and most importantly I found the Taiwanese to be among the friendliest of Asian people I’ve met. I spent a bit of time at the temple of Confucius. Not only was it nice to see this temple, it was interesting to learn a lot about Confucius whose teachings I think are still meaningful today.

Hong Kong

I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of temples in Hong Kong, but I normally stay nearby Man Mo and it’s full of beautiful lights. It’s an excellent spot to catch the vibe of locals paying respects.

If you have any favourite temples, palaces, or churches etc. around the world I would be happy if you would share with me.

 

Look Up, Head Raised High

Look up, head raised high,
Beauty hides plainly in sight,
Not just a blue sky,

In modern rushed lives,
Head oft down, in phones we drown,
Wake up! it’s a choice.

 


I recall a conversation with my mothers husband when I first moved to London. We were driving and walking around the city. My mothers husband has fond memories of walking around the city when he was younger. He has an eye for detail and was looking up at the buildings as we walked around.

When you walk around a city, it’s easy to only look straight ahead.

Even easier to look at your phone.

But when you look up a whole new world opens itself up to you. Not just the sky. Little details; ornamentation, gargoyles, feet hanging out a balcony, a lady drinking a cup of tea at a window.

This is what inspired me to have a go at a Haiku about this.

These pictures are quite striking examples of the detail to be found looking up; framed beautifuly by the sky. But even in day to day life I am often surprised by what I see just walking around the streets.

So try it out, put your phone away and look up, with your head raised high!

 

Through the Window (On The Bus In Bangkok)

Young or old,
Is there anywhere you want to go?

Look out for them,
Charging around, in a bright flash of red or blue.

You have to share,
But a sense of community can be found their.

Relax in your seat,
A moment of freedom is found.

Books, music, snooze or chat,
What will you do?

I will simply sit back and enjoy the view.


During my trip to Thailand this year, I became slightly obsessed with the buses.

Two things caught my eye, the beautiful bright colours and all the little details. The flaps on the front, the expressive lights and grills, the thai flag stickers, the coloured wheel nuts. It’s a visual feast!

As I was walking around the Wat Pho area I saw one bus waiting. I noticed how the passengers were together, but still alone. As I looked on from outside I realised that people lose their self awareness when sitting on the bus. You could openly see people lost in their own world: talking to a friend, listening to music, daydreaming etc.

‘On the bus’ is it’s own little world. People from all kinds of backgrounds, at all ages, come together and spend these moments together, but yet still alone.

I thought, how lonely it is to drive around in a car on your own, when you could be on these wonderful buses.

Life’s Changing Perspective

Yesterday afternoon I was browsing wordpress and I saw the discover challenge  to post about perspective. Coincidently earlier that morning I took a photo of two work men from an unusual top down perspective as they sat on a truck cab.

However the visual perspective wasn’t what made me connect this with the wordpress challenge. But rather the image reminded me of my childhood. For a time my dad drove his own scrap metal truck similar to that in the picture.

I remember in those days I looked up in wonder at the big world; where even the simplest things seemed larger than life:

  • One of my dad’s friends could eat a packet of crisps in one handful!
  • An old farm we passed might reveal a collection of cool old cars
  • The world was huge by my dad seemed so strong and my mum so kind, nothing bad could ever happen.

Twenty seven years later; after study, work, travel and the countless interactions with people from all walks of life, my perspective has changed so much that the younger version of myself could never have imagined where I would be, what I would be thinking about or perhaps more interestingly how I would think.

All the things that happen as we grow up give us so much knowledge, and so much understanding. Our perspective can’t help but drastically change.

Is a potential price of this a loss of wonder?

New knowledge and experiences can help retain a sense of wonder in life. One thing that I try to do is occasionaly think outside the box. I might read a new type of magazine/book, visit a new place, learn a new sport/art/other skill.

As we grow and learnand our perspective changes we also run the risk of narrowing our viewpoint.

That may come down to the way we operate. If we have a bad experience with a certain type of food, people, place we form a negative viewpoint. Sometimes we need to be conscious of this and force ourselves to revisit our perceptions  to check if they are accurate.

The discover challenge on perspective reminds me to look for wonder. It also reminds me to check my negative opinions.

Now, time to go and have some fun with the big world!