WOW -Witness Our World- Photographer Hiroshi Yamauchi
Spirit of Kyoto Kyoto JAPAN 2007

Kyoto is the spiritual heart of Japan. It has been vibrating with energy of skilled craftsmen, wise masters of philosophy, nation’s most promising fine artists and performers of traditional entertainments for over 1,200 years. In contrast with Tokyo, Osaka or any other cities in Japan where much of these long lasting aspects of Japanese traditional society has been replaced with high-tech machinery, Western style institutions, computer graphics and mass broadcasting systems, Kyoto has preserved much of it own characteristics. The deep impressions of culture and refinement are indelible; it’s in the soul of the city. With over 1,600 Buddhism temples, 30 of which administer to the major sects of Japanese Buddhism throughout the country; over 200 Shinto (a Japanese religion incorporating the worship of the ancestors and nature spirits) shrine; three Imperial palaces; and countless classic gardens that are dotted throughout the city and amongst circling mountains; Kyoto easily gives a full cultural experience to its visitors. Emperor Kanmu has carried out the spirit of Kyoto since the founding of the city in 794 AD. The new capital of Japan then was called Heian-Kyo. A long line of Japanese emperors was enthroned here, and the city retains these regal bearings through a myriad of festivals and commemorative customs preserved from feudal times. Kyoto has survived through three disturbances over political power; two great fires that burned most of the city down to ash; and a last minute cross-out from a bombing target list during World War II that was made possible by American scholars’ effort to persuade the military to leave this masterpiece of a city alone. In diminutive old temples along cobblestone alleyway no wider than a footpath, a small crowd of local faithful gathers around for a lecture by a temple master, while in a headquarter of a Buddhism sect, young priests attend to a morning seminar of script reading, and a geisha finishing schools are found at the top of stone paved steps that go high up on the surface of thick green hillside. As all superlatives used to describe vibrant metropolis of 1.5 million residents, Kyoto is certainly a theme park of history and tradition. The city is a smorgasbord of rituals, with every dish leading to inspiration through timeless flow.

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