The evening of the first day we had a meal in the crowded entertainment area of Kyoto, close to the great canal. We were invited by Prof. Okamoto and his wife Yenni Kitamura. Like so often with Japanese who studied Indonesian, conversation was not in English, but in Indonesian. Okamoto has done research on politics in Banten and Gorontalo, but now prepared a study of transsexuals, or waria in Surabaya and Malang. His wife concentrates on Chinese in Indonesia. Southeast Asian Studies in Kyoto has four Indonesian speaking staff: the largest single institute of its kind in Japan.
The second day in Kyoto was Sunday 19 November. Yasuko Kobayashi had to go back to Nagoya, but she presented Jafar Suryomenggolo to us, the guide for this day. Jafar has written a PhD in Kyoto on trade unions in the early period of the Indonesian Republic, 1945-1948 and is since working on post-doctoral research about activitists for rights of the working class in late Soeharto-period and the earli Reformasi. He is a truly leftist guy,does not like religion too much and definitely not the abuse of religion for fun or commercial or political goals.
He brought us first to the Yasaka shrine in Gion, southeast Kyoto. We found the colour of the entrance somewhat kitsch, not red but smiling orange. It is a long series of smaller and larger chapels and temples, for various material needs. Like we saw in India, some trees and other places are full with small papers with wishes.
By far the largest temple is the Kiyomizu-temple, a huge chain of chapels and shrines. Al advertising the happiness to be found here by touching statues, drinking water, writing prayers for a god. Many young people, laughing, chatting, sometimes also for a few moments serious praying. This is a true place of pilgrimage, seriousness and fun together.