A life in Kyoto…A night at the Hein Shrine.

A life in Kyoto…the memoirs continue. A night at the Hein Shrine.

I went Tuesday night to the voluminous Hein Shrine, for the 60th annual torch-light Noh performance…

The Hein Shrine is known for its’ courtyard of white pebbles purposely ordered to induce the light of the moon to a brighter spectacle through the reflection upon the tiny white stones!

It was so nice to be outside in the warm night under the moon. Everyone sitting on wood pallets and watching the green bamboo stage all lit up with real fire torch-light – where a masked performance within the open belly of the shrine commenced.

And there on stage, the actors move in a manner that makes them look like they float and levitate! As the actors raise and lower themselves, or move across the stage – with that uncanny grace – it’s something to do with how they shuffle but do not lift their feet while also keeping their torso centered perfectly straight that creates the appearance of seeming to move without seeming to move; all the while their body is concealed in volumes of ornamental fabric that is so perfectly crisp and folded – it at times makes me think they are arraigned in outfits made out of colorful origami paper! The way it shapes in large bold folds so crisp. Adding to the disorientation of their modes of locomotion the actors’ voices cast out through speakers – giving them a ventriloquism bar none!

The masked actors themselves remind me of giant marionette dolls. There is this animated quality of a toy figure void of expression and yet alive in its vivid mimicry of the human poise! Their performances are very surreal – and when watching, there is something of the feel I think that reminds me of playing with dolls! Still, I love it, the masks and costumes…

What I also really enjoyed was gazing at the fire-lit tops of the shrine. I could see how the trees perfectly grown to the height of the temple and in wonderful symmetry may have inspired the very design of the shrines rooftops – that and bamboo. It seems so evident that there is a kind of sensitivity to the harmony of nature as inspiration for so much of the designs…

I really feel the Hein period was truly amazing regarding artistic practice… everything was so perfected; the clothes, the food, the gardens, the architecture… no wonder Japan continued later to resist the outside world coming in! It must have been like an entire dimension existing, and suddenly a whole alternate reality opens up vulgarly to interrupt the pride and harmony…

I don’t know; except, I am really going to miss Kyoto…

I know of course Japan – like all places has its’ discontents, but right now I like the peaceful feel and to look at what is pretty. I have become enchanted with the beauty here, the gardens, the bamboo, the crows, the black butterflies, the frogs worshipping the moon, the fireflies by the river, the reflections of the mountains and homes in the birth waters of the fields, the incredible array of fashion, the ever-present cemetery like feel…reminding me this must be what it was like to live as the Mayans did with their dead. And the cleanliness of the culture and even the practice of theater in how people behave; even if they don’t like you and less than secretly hate you –  because you are the foreigner, still, they smile and bow, and believe if, if you act that way, people believe it and it is that way….

And the thought of returning to America is a little bit disheartening. If I could speak the Japanese language and read, and had a way to stay, I think I would want to stay, not forever – but, for a year or two, perhaps even ten…

But of course, the ones I love, my family are not here; without them, I could never stay.

Still, I feel very touched by Kyoto; it will be interesting to see how I feel after I return home and finish school where my feelings remain…


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