Fall Break Update

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Hi all! I had the presence of mind to make a blog post—surprise! I was actually going to post yesterday, but I was so wiped out that I went to bed at around 8pm… So you get a post today!

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Hokoji, Toyokuni Jinja, Mimizuka, and Rokujogahara

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…or: “Long Field Trip’s Journey Into Higashiyama Ward”

It just felt wrong to cram more into that title. Its length is misleading, though; Mimizuka and Rokujogahara were both rather brief stops. (Though that, in itself, is worth talking about later on in this post.)

All of the sites from this day are not only physically close together but also historically related. Starting with Oda Nobunaga’s successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and moving forward to Tokugawa Ieyasu, who hated Hideyoshi and did most of what he did to spite and/or ruin him, one can derive from these four sites a historical narrative of vengeance, revisionism, and doing terrible things for petty reasons.

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Shokokuji or: “Yoshimitsu Was Here”

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As I’m sure I’ve mentioned (or at least alluded to), KCJS is hosted by Doshisha University, which possesses several campuses as well as a partner women’s institution, a girls’ high school, and a girls’ middle school. Our program’s center of operations is the Imadegawa Campus, across the street from the Kyoto Imperial Palace. This campus also has a lesser known historical neighbor: Shokokuji temple. This temple is not a very popular one among tourists and publications; though it is in fact the parent temple of Kinkakuji (the golden pavilion) and Ginkakuji (the silver pavilion), it is vastly overshadowed by its more aesthetically striking children, to the point that official media has to make a point of noting that Shokokuji is in fact the primary facility.

Shokokuji isn’t just relevant to Doshisha because of it’s proximity, though. The land on which the Imadegawa Campus now stands was once owned by the temple. Considering how large the temple’s grounds still are, one begins to get the picture of just how big Shokokuji was in bygone days. Its precincts at one time included the temple, a pagoda, and a palace, though only the temple remains today. Why, though, was such a sprawling complex constructed? The answer involves crafty urban planning, and one man’s desire to legitimize his shogunate in the eyes of the Emperor and the people of Kyoto.

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The Museum of Kyoto or: “Intensive Japanese, Part Two”

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After we left Rokkakudo, the next stop was the Museum of Kyoto. The museum’s official facade is an impressive Meiji-era brick building which once housed the Bank of Japan. The bank building is now home to special exhibition areas, museum offices, and a shop, but back when the museum was located entirely within this building it was known as the Heian Museum, a scholarly museum focused on the golden age of Kyoto. The current museum, which is located in a more modern building annexed to the original along with a cafe and courtyard, opened in the 1990s for Kyoto’s 1,200th anniversary (albeit a little after the fact). Where the original focused almost exclusively on the Heian period, the modern Museum of Kyoto takes a broader view of the city’s history and culture.

It is also not very gaijin-accessible.

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Rokkakudo or: “Strange Princes Lying (Next To) Ponds…”

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I know it was a reach, but so help me, I’m gonna give these all clever titles. Next up on the itinerary is Rokkakudo (rokkaku means hexagon, which describes the shape of the temple itself)! This Buddhist temple isn’t nearly as large or magnificent as some of the better known temples in Kyoto; in fact, it’s surrounded almost entirely by modern buildings, including a Starbucks from which one can exit directly onto temple grounds. But this little, tucked-away temple has a long backstory, one that illustrates how narratives of heritage and history aren’t always compatible.

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Rozanji or: “The Thousand-Year Reach”

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When Murasaki Shikibu was writing The Tale of Genji, she couldn’t have known how much of a favor she was doing the city of Kyoto in terms of tourism. She also couldn’t have known how much mileage a heritage site could one day get out of a tenuous connection to her legacy.

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The Kyoto Imperial Palace or: “Where Does the Time Gosho?”

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This is going to be the first of a burst of posts all at once, because I didn’t think about the logistics of posting all of my journals for Heritage Tourism and History In Japan together instead of spaced out like the field trips. Sorry for the feast-or-famine blogging style; I promise I’ll try to get on a real writing and posting schedule!

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