Kyoto lanterns

09Apr06

Lea’s last night in Japan turned out to be really special — actually, one of the most special nights that I’ve had myself since I’ve been here. After walking through the Gion district in the dusk, the alleys turning hues of blue while red lanterns began to light up in front of storefronts, we walked up toward Yasaka Shrine.

The entire Yasaka area, including Maruyama Park, was illuminated by lanterns in anticipation of cherry-blossom season. Even though it was raining, thousands of people, many wearing traditional dress for the festival, were walking through the park, emerging and disappearing in the changing qualities of light. And, in the rain, everything glistened and reflected.

The famous entry gate of Yasaka Shrine in the Gion district of Kyoto.

Umbrellas illuminated by the central display of lanterns.

Another view of the central display of lanterns.

Here’s a shot of people ringing the bells at Yasaka, an act that’s supposed to bring good health. If you let the enormous rope swing too hard it makes a loud thwacking sound as it hits a protective wooden barrier along the side of the shrine building.

I think this might be the most famous cherry tree in Japan. While I was in Tokyo recently, I kept coming across large posters of this tree, pink with blossoms in the daylight, as part of an advertising campaign promoting cherry-blossom season in Kyoto.

The entry gate at Chion-in temple, illuminated by giant banks of floodlights.



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