Ubiquity Redux

We told you they are everywhere.


Ancient Ways

While in the role of Ms. Shutterbug, I snapped a few pics of the gardens. And even though being outside in the pouring rain makes me cranky, I took the time to appreciate the greenness and clean air. Then I dried off and warmed up in the nearest Starbucks, as the monks of yore would have done.


Rear view

Unbeknownst to me as I shared a quiet moment with the scenery, Ms. Sneaky Shutterbug was sullying the best vantage of the temple and the water with my big head. The stones, islands, and trees are placed exactly in the Mirror Pond to represent a Buddhist creation myth.



The Golden Temple is one of Kyoto’s most well-known. Originally constructed for a shogun in 1397 as a retirement home, it was converted to a temple after his death.

In 1950, a young and disillusioned monk who believed that beauty doesn’t exist in the world decided to prove that theory true by burning Kinkaku-ji to the ground. His story is fictionalized in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima. In the novel, Mizoguchi grows obsessed with his father’s adage that there is nothing on this earth as beautiful as the Golden Temple, and comes to believe if beauty really exists there, his own image is a thing estranged from beauty. Embittered by the hypocrisy he sees all around him, Mizoguchi continually rationalizes his conviction that beauty synthesizes “the struggles and the contradictions and the disharmonies in every part of this building – and furthermore, it was beauty that ruled over them all!” Convinced that its destruction is his only path to deliverance, he razes the temple to become free.

An exact replica of the original was completed in 1955.



Eschewing kimonos, sumo loincloths, and the usual touristy knickknacks, I decided on a more permanent reminder of Japan. I was fortunate to find a very talented artist to give me my largest and most colourful tattoo thus far. Gakkin's design, use of bright inks, and attention to detail have ensured my return for future work at his Harizanmai studio. Though, after wincing through the five hour session required for the minogame, next time I may opt for something smaller.


The Daytime View

Kamogawa is just as lovely during the day.


Shelter from the storm

Among the homeless along Kamogawa, innovative housing solutions abound.


The Not-so Mighty Kamogawa

One of our favourite things about living in Saskatoon was being near the footpaths of the South Saskatchewan. One of our favourite things about living in Seoul is our close proximity to the Han River. As it turned out, the Kamo River was just a few steps from our guesthouse, bisecting Kyoto and providing photo opportunities, an ideal way to navigate the city on foot, and lovely views for our morning runs.


We ♥ OOFALWO readers

Nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like a cloud of interstellar gas and dust. From our little part of the universe to yours, have a lovely day.


Here a monk. There a monk.

Everywhere a monk, monk.


National Treasure No.1

Here is the photograph of Namdaemun, the Great South Gate, that we posted exactly one year ago today.

And here is Namdaemun as it appeared two nights ago. Today police arrested the 70 year old arsonist responsible for the loss of one of Korea's most beloved buildings.



Koi seem omnipresent in the streams and ponds around Kyoto, even in a babbling brook atop Kurama-san.



The old Japanese adage says there are many paths to the top of Mt. Fuji. There is only one route to the top of Kurama-san. Here's the view.


Water Imagery

Kurama-san, with its numerous temples, shrines, and iconic representations, acts as a microcosm of Japanese mythology. Here, as in myth, the dragon protects the essence of life.



Kurama has trees. Lots of trees. And a big tree. A really big tree. With decorations.


Happy New Year

To welcome last year's zodiac animal, we devoured a pound of bacon with our eggs and toast. This year promises no such culinary celebration.
Welcome to the Year of the Rat. The rat is, admittedly, our least favourite animal of the astrological cycle, in large part due to a terrifying night long ago in an Indonesian guesthouse. We have since repressed the horror, though the details do occasionally haunt our dreams.
We temporarily put aside our angst, loyal OOFALWOians, to wish you all the best in the upcoming year.


Paved Paradise?

In 770, Gancho, the founder of Kurama, reached the top of the mountain on horseback and built the thatched hut that was the precursor to the temple. Today, the road is far more developed but no less spiritual, as it is the sacred ground of Sonten, the deity of heaven and earth.



As we neared the temple at the summit of Kurama-san, we came across this eerie patch of forest - preternaturally quiet and entirely emblematic of this rugged part of the northern hills.


North to Kurama

Tengu, "heavenly dogs", are mountain spirits protecting both the natural environment and its denizens, subjugating evil in all its manifestations. At Kurama, a stunning temple and pleasant village an hour on the train from Kyoto, this tengu serves also as a cautionary tale on the dangers of not telling the truth or wearing enough sunscreen.


Natural Habitat

We would be failing to conform to the truth if we told you that we spent all of our time out sightseeing in Kyoto. Two rainy days and a few quiet evenings allowed me to spend time in my most comfortable and predictable way. Above you can see the photographic evidence of me on my home ground, which fortunately, is a way of life that travels well.


Gift certificates for everyone!

Kyoto offered much of the same high-end shopping as Seoul - Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, to name a few. It also offered some, uh, specialty stores.