December 18, 2009

Niigata Day 7: Brilliant Temples

Goodbye, Nagaoka, we hardly knew ye. Hello, Echigo! What have you got for us?

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Oh, just the most badass artist ever. Ishikawa Unchō (石川雲蝶) was a guy that didn't let having the character for butterfly in his name tarnish his image. The dude liked his drinking, gambling, and women, so the temple Eirinji, known as a gambling temple at the time, was perfect for him. Don't ask me why there was a gamling temple. Above is a detail of a warrior taking down a 化けた (baketa, twisted and changed) dragon. Hell yeah. This guy's work makes me want to live in this town. Best day of the trip. This one was at Eirinji temple [map][translatorized website].


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Here are some of his Oshikawa's women. The guide-monk said Unchou liked his women sakura-pink, but all his carvings were white.

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There are also a few spooky stories he depicted for the Kaisandō at Saifukuji temple [map][ja website]. He filled the whole place with masterpieces. I took lots of video to lavish upon you later.


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Then a short train ride later we were in the town and ski resort of Yuzawa [map]. The snow is a bit lacking as of yet; give it a few. The hotel, Naspa New Otani, is pretty fancy. Like, I feel like a ski preppy, and need a ski underdog to pick on fancy.


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Before we ran out of daylight, we made tracks to Untoan temple [map].


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It lacked the cool carvings and paintings of the others in many respects, but made up for that with moss. I'm a mossophile, and the environs gave me a total mossgasm.


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Moss!


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Untoan is a perfect place to practice zen meditation. This is the zazen room.


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We ran into the traditional media again back at Yuzawa station, but this time they weren't content with filming pretty girls in the snow this time. No, they were there to film us.


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Here I act for the local news with a drunken mascot, as one must. The Yuzawa station has a sake-tasting store in its new shopping center, so the statues are there to be like, dude, you know what's around the corner *hic*. They sell 96 Niigata brands.


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And then later a stop at a onsen/cafe/hotel on the shopping street, just outside the station. Look at the knockers on our table!


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Finally, a fancy French meal back at the hotel. Quite a good contrast to the washoku (Japanese style meal) feasts of the past week (nice though they were). Snowboarding death tomorrow! Goodnight.