The Buddhist Monks’ Robes (and other stories)

There are 1,600 Buddhist temples scattered throughout the prefecture of Kyoto. Known as “the city of a thousand temples,” you’ll also find 400 Shinto shrines, a trio of palaces, and dozens of gardens and museums! According to Wikipedia, Kyoto boasts more World Heritage Sites per square inch than any other city.

For me while living in Japan, I viewed Kyoto as a special place I could escape to by SHINKANSEN/ Bullet Train from Tokyo for a magical weekend of impressive cuisine served in monasteries, gardens and alongside rivers as well as a chance to learn more about Japan’s history. Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the emperor from 794 to 1868, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. Kyoto thus spent a millennium as the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion. During this time Kyoto accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, geishas and monks. And Kyoto was one of the very few Japanese cities to escape Allied bombings during World War II. Buddhist monks in Japan are quite friendly and have always been willing to stop and talk to me as well as pose for my camera. If you are a little adventurous, head over to a small bar ran by some Kyoto Monks, Bozu Bar 京都坊主BAR. But getting back to the Monks, there are many styles and colors of Buddhist monks’ robes you’ll notice in Japan, and they don’t all resemble the ensembles worn by the monks in these photos, however, the robes in the photograph do illustrate how the Chinese style seen in Photo 6 was adapted in Japan. These were taken in Kamakura and Kyoto recently.

The practice of wearing a shorter outer robe over a longer white or gray kimono is distinctively Japanese.

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