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A Day in Kiyomizu

Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000 17:24:10 -0700
To: yayoi Wakabayashi
From: Harvie Branscomb
Subject: kiyomizu dera

I stayed last night a the small inn called Kiyomizu Sanso. On the way up Sannen-zaka I noticed some activity at the temple including a powerful beam of light striking out over the Kyoto nightscape. I found that Kiyomizu had opened last night for the first time its evening hours which happens once a year for a month starting on November First. After having dinner at the house, I walked back up to the temple to see it at night. Lights had been placed in strategic locations in the trees to illuminate the leaves as well as the aging structures, mostly from below the roofs. The nearby temples were also illuminated and seemed to sprout out of the wet jungle of the lower slopes of the mountain of Daimonji. The Kiyomizu Dera climbed out of the forest timber by timber in a geometric pattern large enough to form a texture of light and dark browns, punctured by complete darkness beyond and topped and anchored by the gigantic mass of the temple's roof. Millions of rain droplets rushed through spotlight's beam to reach the absorptive comfort of the temple's aging wood. Below sculptured pools of water were reflecting the wavy images of stone lanterns, and arching trees trying to keep dry the insignificant human creatures below during feeble attempts to capture the scene with digital cameras. I myself with no camera was therefore removed from this particular absurdity and had to commit the goings on to memory. Strains of incense ventured forth from unseen burners, adding an artificial reality to an otherwise natural but intensely crafted outdoor experience. I returned down the stairs after chatting with the students who had been guarding entry of the temple, and showered myself and slept until this morning when I hopped onto the Nozomi to Tokyo, where I am at this moment. Harvie