Fall Adventure and Illumination
One of the places I got to visit during the fall was Arashiyama. Arashiyama is a famous mountain in Kyoto, known for its bamboo forest and its monkey park. Even before leaving for Japan, my Japanese professor had told me about such mountain and how a red foliage would cover it during fall. It was then that I decided to adventure to such mountain with my Taiwanese friends. The trail was simply phenomenal. It reminded me of my father’s house as bamboo trees surround it. The path would stretch far and you could see visitors taking pictures everywhere. The bamboos would be so tall it would close some of the sky view and it felt almost as if one would be enclosed in this bamboo forest.
Nonetheless, what amazed me the most was the concept of illumination. Between fall and winter, temples would open at night and be illuminated so that visitors could appreciate a new scene. I visited Arashiyama’s illumination at night and it simply amazed me. At the entrance of the station there was a small path of pillars with Japanese styled backgrounds that would be light up. As you would continue through the bamboo forest you could see different sections lighted up in different colors such as blue or yellow. Even though it was really packed, there was a good and awing atmosphere.
Furthermore, I visited other temples in their illumination such as the local temple, Kitano Tenmangu. Unlike Arashiyama, what intrigued me most of this temple was observing the architecture during the night. There was a very big Torii Gate signifying the entrance to the temple and as you walked to the main grounds there were various statues of animals and such at the sides. Within the main Japanese religion, Shinto, these represent deities, and each has a specific function. For example, one of the statues was of a cow and it is believed that touching it will cure physical ills.
As we entered the main grounds, the very nature and style of the Japanese shrine, as well as its size, made me think that I was in a Japanese movie. There were various paths that would lead to other smaller shrines and buildings of worship. One of the main temples had a golden fringe and lamps all around it. At the very end of the illumination path, the temple staff had tea and some Japanese sweets prepared for the visitors.