Sunday, April 06, 2008


Light, Pink, Indigo

I used to think that the Starbucks tumbler in the middle of this photo was a flight of fancy. Yes, of course Japan is full of cherry blossoms in the spring and yes of course the sky is a shade of blue. But the contrast couldn't possibly be this extreme.

And then I saw this.

While in Kyoto, friends and I hiked up to Kiyomizudera at night, with the whole place lit by lanterns, and trees illuminated by floodlights. I'm still very tired and jet-lagged, and feeling incompetent in either language, so I'm not going to do a very good job of describing the experience, except to say that it was nothing short of ecstatic.

The base of the hill was full of people camping out beneath cherry trees. Some were already drunk and some were just waiting until morning, staking their claim until friends arrived with picnic baskets. It was a raucous and festive place. But as we climbed up to the actual shrine, the mood changed--less earthy and more ethereal.

This famous old tree is actually three trees fused into one. Photos can't do it justice. At one point, it was apparently ailing, but special tree doctors have revived it and hope to keep it going for a good many more years.

With so many people climbing up to the top of the temple in the dark, it's hard not to get high on the energy. Everything was dark blue, and frothy pink. I've never seen anything like this.

A portal to another world? Just past this temple doorway was a deep canyon, filled with illuminated cherry blossoms.

And finally, the massive Kiyomizudera complex built into a hillside, floating on a sea of pink.

Hi Marie. Beautiful photos. I used to go to Kiyomizudera a few times a year when my wife's mother lived in Kyoto, but alas she's recently moved to Nagano-ken.

How have you been? I'm living in New York again, at the moment, doing grad work. I'll be moving back to Akita in early May.

I can't seem to find your e-mail anywhere. Contact me at if you don't mind. I'd like to keep in touch and compare notes on things from time to time.

Hope all's well with you!!
Mike Plugh
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