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 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
reflecting the wavy images of stone lanterns, and arching trees trying to
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.