Amparo Bertram (spacealien_vamp) wrote,
Amparo Bertram

And I thought I was a maniac with my cell phone camera...

Deciding that I needed to test out my new digital camera, I took advantage of today being flea market day at Touji as an excuse to go to Kyoto. It is, after all, a remarkably photogenic city.

I intended to start out around 7am, but what with one thing and another, I got a late start. I arrived at Touji about 8:20, already drenched in sweat from the heat.

The picture on the right shows an example of one of the vendor stalls. The flea market sells everything from kimono to pottery to handicrafts to can really be overwhelming. I intentionally took a relatively small amount of money because I knew I would spend whatever I brought. Even when I reached the point where I knew I couldn't buy any more, it was really hard to see all the things available on the way out. I had to pass up an absolutely gorgeous silver obi with butterflies lavishly embroidered all over it...

<ahem> Anyway, my prize purchase of the day was a kimono with a pattern of books(!) scattered all over it. Is this totally made for me, or what?

After the flea market, I got the feeling that I hadn't taken enough pictures yet, so I decided to try going somewhere I had never been before. I wound up visiting Kyoto Studio Park, a place that is made up to look like various cities at famous times in Japan's history, such as the Edo and Meiji periods. It is used for filming historical dramas and movies.

On the left is an example of some of the houses on display. These particular houses are so typical that you can still see them around. (Some of my neighboring houses rather resemble this.) The bamboo (I think) mats in front of the windows are to help block sunlight to keep the house cool during the summer. (My apartment came with some, but they were old and nasty and I threw them away.) They can be purchased at home goods stores.

On the right is a shot of some "maiko" (apprentice geisha) entering the headquarters of the Shinsen-gumi, a famous group of swordsmen characterized by their light blue jackets. I put maiko in quotation marks because I'm pretty sure they weren't the real thing. They were probably tourists who paid to have themselves made up as maiko while they went sightseeing. There are a number of places in Kyoto that do this. Costs vary from place to place, but it's generally about $120 for use of the costume and makeup plus a studio photography session plus the chance to walk around in the costume.

Next to Shinsen-gumi headquarters, there is a place where actors put on a short performance. It only lasts about five minutes. In the picture on the left, you can see Okita, one of the best swordsmen in the Shinsen-gumi, fending off a pair of men out for revenge for something or other.

There are a number of buildings for specific purposes set up all around the studio park. Many of them are decorated with the names of famous historical places. (I probably would have appreciated this a lot more if I actually watched Japanese historical dramas and knew what they were...though I took pictures of them regardless.) In the building pictured on the right, there was a set with a traditional fireplace. The fireplace is set in the floor with a kettle suspended from the ceiling over it.

The set pictured on the left is made to look as if it is directly underneath the roof of the house. You can see all the wooden beams that support the roof. This set is used when filming ninja dramas, because ninjas are always sneaking around among the rafters as they carry out their missions.

On the right is a shot of the section of the park made to look like the Yoshiwara district of Edo (Tokyo). Amusingly, the English signboard declares that it is the "licensed gay quarters," though what it means is the "licensed pleasure quarters."

The picture on the left shows a mannequin of one of the prostitutes. The women would sit behind the bars of the storefront, while men would walk down the street outside and gaze at the "merchandise" on display to decide which place to enter. (This page has more information about such prostitutes and their connection with geisha for anyone interested.)

In all, I took about 80 pictures, though some of them were simply flowers I passed as I was walking around. I even managed to get shots of two butterflies on the flowers...

By the time I got home, I was exhausted from the heat and the walking. I'm definitely going to take it easy tomorrow.
Tags: culture, sightseeing
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