Monday, November 22, 2004

The promised pictures

I said I'd post some pictures from yesterday, so here are some. I took a lot, though, and this makes it difficult to choose which ones to put up. I've decided that I'll choose a few myself, and after that describe some of the others. If you want to see any of them, make a request and I'll post it.

The ones I'll put today will give an idea of what to expect.

First, a sort of general picture, giving some idea of what the place was like. This was taken from a slightly elevated position, but still only manages to capture only a fraction of what there was to see. The problem with this temple is that the only way to get a good overview is from a helicopter. You can't even see the temple buildings in this one.

Here is one of the temple buildings, but I'm not sure if it's the main one. Maybe it leads to the main building. I'm not sure.

The reason I'm not sure is that I always get lost in these temple grounds. There are a lot of large buildings. Add the crowds, and you have a very muddled Badaunt.

At one point, though, I must have been right next to the main temple area because we were sitting on some steps and having a little rest, and when I looked behind me I saw this:

Obviously this was the main area, but I was too close to see the actual building complex. There were very few people inside. Most people were out in the temple grounds, wandering around and checking out the numerous stalls. We were there for over four hours and I don't think we saw them all.

Remember the picture I posted of a kimono stall at the last flea market I went to, where all the kimono were hanging up, tidy and beautifully presented? That flea market was in Kobe, and was smaller and classier. This flea market is in in the middle of Osaka, in a fairly old and rundown neighbourhood, and is much larger, messier, and less genteel. It's also quite a lot cheaper. Here is what a kimono stall looks like at Shi-Tennoji:

You rummage through the piles of kimono and if you're lucky you find a gem. While my friend and I were sitting on the steps (with the inner temple area behind us, see previous picture), a beautiful young British woman started an extensive hunt through this stall, which was in front of us. She tried some kimono on. She was wearing jeans and boots and a big jersey (sweater to Americans), and had a huge mass of curly dark hair - entirely wrong for 'traditional' kimono wearing. But when she put one blue kimono on (she is not in the picture, but the kimono is one of the blue bunch in the front left) it looked stunning, even over jeans. I cupped my hands to my mouth and shouted (because I was too knackered to get up), "IT LOOKS WONDERFUL! THAT'S THE BEST ONE FOR YOU!" and she turned around, looking surprised and uncertain.

"Really?" she said. "Do you think it's better than this one?" She held up another blue one, almost the same shade, but which somehow didn't work for her. We assured her the first one was definitely the one, and she told us that actually she wanted to buy two, one for herself and one for her boyfriend in London. We spent quite a bit of time giving helpful advice, but both of us stuck by that blue one. She roped in some passing guy and got him trying on men's kimonos for her so she could see what they looked like on. It was an entertaining and friendly interlude.

She ended up buying the original blue one and another darker blue one for her boyfriend. They were very cheap. And they looked great.

I was feeling particularly happy while I was sitting there because I'd just bought some bowls. I've been looking for some more. I'd bought two rice bowls, a long time ago, and regretted not getting more. The ones I got were expensive, but we've been using them every day since then and they feel right in your hand when you lift them. They are beautiful, the balance is perfect, and there is something very satisfying about them. Before I bought those bowls I don't think I'd ever really understood the pleasure of eating from beautiful dishes. I'd had nice dishes before but nothing like those bowls, which are over 100 years old. They are, somehow, exactly right, and I've often wished I'd thrown caution to the wind and bought more than two.

I've been looking for more ever since. They didn't have to match (and in any case that would be impossible), but they had to have a similar feeling of rightness. And yesterday, I found them.

This picture isn't a great one, although you can get some idea of what the bowls look like. I don't know how old they are, but the designs are hand-painted so they're not very new. I bought four, two rice bowls and two okazu (side dish) bowls. The okazu bowls are a little larger, and have lids that protrude over the sides of the bowl. The rice bowls lids fit inside. You can see these two types on the left of the photo. The rice bowls are in the front, and the okazu bowls just behind them.

Now I'm sort of wishing I'd bought some of the plates as well, but actually they weren't as big as I wanted. I already have some lovely plates, and the smaller ones don't get used so often. I like to buy things I can use a lot. Also, while these dishes weren't as expensive as my other rice bowls, they still weren't that cheap. And if I'm going to have mismatched dishes, I might as well wait and get some other mismatched ones, otherwise it's going to look as though I had a set and then broke half of them. I'd rather have it look as though I had several sets and then broke most of them!

This next picture is here just because I thought the old guy was très cool.

The final picture today is my favourite, for no particular reason except that it makes me smile to look at it. There was a little path off the main area, which had a few stalls down one side of it. It's a sort of side-entrance to the temple, probably a sort of tradesman's entrance. There is space for parking, which wasn't being used, and stalls down only one side of the path. On the other side, by the empty parking spaces, some people had stopped to rest. We stopped there for a little while, too, and took the weight off our feet. Then we carried on, and as we were leaving my friend said, "I think you should take a picture of that," and I did. Perhaps next time I should just hand her the camera. It's the best of the lot.

I think that's enough pictures for now, but following is a list of other pictures I took. If you want to see any of them, let me know and I'll post them. Alternatively I could just post one or two with each blog entry for a while.

Red demon
Green demon (these demons guard the entrance to the temple)
Mystery vegetable
Fascinating junk stall
Indigo noren in the breeze (Noren are those sort of half-curtain things)

There are also several more general sort of pictures, rather messy, but that's what it was like, really. Messy beyond belief, and wonderful, glorious fun.


tinyhands said...

I'm a huge tinker, so I like the one of the clocks, radios, & cameras. Question: I assume the kimonos were all new, but would one expect to find used/old ones at a flea market? I'd like to see the other pictures, whenever you get around to it.

Badaunt said...

The kimono were all old. Actually, when I first used to go there, 15 years ago the crowds were mostly of old people. Young people would not be seen dead in second-hand clothes. The old people were buying kimono to wear. I used to wander around the market feeling like a giant. Old people are *short* here.

A few years ago, quite suddenly, second-hand clothes became the in thing, and lots of young people started appearing at the market. Then, more recently 'kimono fashion' took off, and young people are buying those too, and wearing them in non-traditional and colourful ways that make their elders gasp.

You see lots of clocks, cameras, fishing gear and carpentry tools at this market, too, for some reason.

I'll put some more pictures up today, probably.