I took a trip to Japan a few weeks ago to visit my favorite Japanese game developers, Nintendo, and attend the PS3 Technical Seminar in Tokyo. My last trip was a whirlwind so I was happy to have an entire week this time around, rather than just 48 hours.

My first few days were spent in Kyoto. The city was spared much of the firebombing the rest of the country received during World War 2 so there are an amazing number of ancient Buddhist and Shinto shrines scattered throughout the city.

During my one day off in Kyoto I visited Kiyomizu-dera, a collection of Buddhist temples first built in 798. Yes, 798. Most were rebuilt after fires in 1633 and are considered “modern” structures. (It boggles my mind that a 350-year old building can be considered modern.) Unlike other temples in the city, which tend to be a bit more naturally colored, Kiyomizu-dera is a bright orange. (Joost would have loved it.)

The temple offered fantastic views of the city of Kyoto. It was a really weird juxtaposition of past and present to see these centuries old structures in front of a large and bustling metropolitan city. Living in a brand new area like Rancho Santa Margarita, incorporated as a city in 2000, really skews your perspective. I consider my 1991 home to be “old,” after all!

Though the bright entrance gate (Nio-Mon), three-storied pagoda (Sanju-No-To) and massive main hall commanded (demanded?) the most attention I found myself drawn to some of the smaller structures like the Hyakutai Jizo Hall. (I was snared by the jizo at the Zojoji Temple last trip, too.)

There were numerous fountains in the complex to be used for purification as well as for giving yourself a little good luck. The waters of one, as noted in a travel guide, were supposed to confer good luck to students before taking a test. Apparently I did it wrong, though, so I guess I’m out of luck… err… on the luck.

I visited a few more sights (and sites) during my stay in Kyoto and then packed up for Tokyo. Stay tuned for more photos and travel notes over the next few days.

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