Bonus, I also found a Thai restaurant called E-san that was able to deal with my food restrictions. They were actually really great about it. I had actually forgotten to mention my shellfish allergy, and the waiter came back specifically to tell me the ingredients and make sure there was nothing else I was allergic to. The Pad Thai was probably the best I've ever had, and no trace of being glutened or an allergic reaction. If you're ever around the Imperial Palace/Dōshisha University area (Karasuma/Imadegawa), I would recommend this place. It also had a very comfortable atmosphere to sit and hang out in.
I hadn't actually planned on spending the weekend at the conference. (Thankfully I had enough foresight to bring a couple of decent outfits!) So I tried to squeeze in a few side trips. Saturday morning I got up early to go to the market at Kitano Tenmangū. It wasn't nearly as impressive as the Tōji Market, but it was a good opportunity to see the shrine.
The shrine dates from the 10th century and enshrines Sugawara Michizane, scholar, poet, and tragically framed enemy of the state. The shrine was built to pacify his angry spirit. He is now the god of academics. And cows apparently... (okay, probably for agriculture, since that's one of Tenjin's things.)
This seemed to be a luck or prayer thing, though I can't find it on the shrine's website. People (a lot of students) went up to the statues and rubbed them. I'd like to find out more about the practice since this was the first time I'd seen it.
I saw that the treasure house was open, but I didn't have a lot of time before the conference started, so I didn't go in... I'm kicking myself now, since it's only open on the 25th of the month, during the market.
Another cool thing about Kitano Tenmangū, aside from this six hundred year old tree, is the remains of Hideyoshi's embankment.
I can't say I'm a Hideyoshi fan, but he was apparently the first person to think of building an embankment next to the Kamo River. I'm still stunned that it took until the end of the 16th century for someone to do that because the river flooded all the time and they had the technology. But Hideyoshi built an earthen embankment around the whole city, since there really was never a city wall to speak of. There isn't much of the original embankment left, so it was pretty cool to find out that I was standing on part of it.
For the record, this is on the north west side of the city, no where near the Kamo River, but it does abut a smaller stream.
This morning I made an impromptu trip to Kinkakuji/Rokuon'ji, which I found out was within walking distance of where I'm staying. Also known as the Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji is a pretty spectacular site. It's a World Heritage Site, so obviously you have to pay to get close enough to see it and there are so many people there. I was surprised that there wasn't a lot of context given on why someone in the 14th century covered a building in gold. Perhaps less surprising is the fact that the brochure doesn't mention the building you see there is about 70 years old.
I suppose it takes some of the magic out of it to know that the medieval building burned down in 1950, or more accurately it was burned down by a monk. The building that stands there now was built in 1955 and probably has more gold foil on it than Yoshimitsu's building. Oddly, this is also not mentioned on the UNESCO webpage for the site. It doesn't so much bug me that the building isn't "the original" but that its history is completely shunted aside because it's pretty. That a single building can tell so many different stories over five hundred years is worth commemorating and drawing attention to. You've already got people's attention with the shiny gold building! ...But that's a rant for another time.
On to cool finds!
I have no idea what kind of moss this is, but I really like it! I started getting interested in terrariums lately, and I've been thinking of making a moss one. I mostly took this picture so I could figure out what this is. It's quite tall, probably about a centimeter or so.
Pretty flowers that I haven't identified.
I have a lot of pictures of Gray Herons now... but I get so blown away every time I see them!
This was cool. I've never seen a spring before, or at least if I have I've never noticed what it was. It's hard to tell in the picture, but it basically like the water was coming out of the rocks. In the picture they just look wet, but the water was running over them.
And to end with, who else but Bowser to warn kids about the dangers of fire?