Monday, May 17, 2004


On Saturday we all (me, Echo, Kasumi, Kaya, Mitsuki and Miasa) assiduously courted complete exhaustion by driving in to northeastern Kyoto to go to the great flea market that's held at Chionji on the 15th of every month. (Chionji belongs to the Pure Land sect.)

Fortunately the day was overcast, so we didn't have a scorching sun in which to carry around tiny twins and all their essential equipment, apparatuses, impedimenta, equipage and whatnot. We hired no bearers, preferring to transport our own expedition.

But what a change is there! When last I went to that then-fledgling market back in the early 90s, there were a couple dozen sellers of used clothing and books, a couple of diehard antique dealers tucked away here and there, with very few buyers, mostly neighborhood people visiting the temple or straggling through the big temple yard on their shopping errands. Few folks were interested in those days, when the Japanese still did not want to buy used things-- too remeniscent of the war and the squalid poverty of its aftermath. Twenty years ago, the stuff left out on the street for the trash man was an antique treasure trove for the poor foreigner, to whom used meant: free.

Now though, the new and warless generation coming up the economic ladder is interested in everything, especially things of the past. So it was that with a featherweight twin in each arm I could hardly move along the narrow aisles filled with buyers for the vast variety of arts, crafts, antiques, foods, health and non-health foods, massage, hair styling, thatched roofing, old kimonos, you name it, much of it being sold by friends of ours (we used to sell at Kyoto flea markets ourselves back in the old days, so know many of the market folks).

Needless to say we spent most of our time up on the broad cool veranda of the temple taking turns with the twins as we made individual forays out into the mobbed aisles to look at all the great stuff. I found a stand selling beautiful pottery made by a few fellows from Katsura; I bought half a dozen small plates and bowls, but was soon back on the thick-boarded, iron-bound veranda with Kaya and the twins, as the chanting went on inside and the incense holiness wafted out over us. The twins, those little Buddhas, had a great time crawling in and out the big doors and among the worshippers.

When those inside the temple began chanting the nembutsu while passing around the very big wooden juzu (prayer beads), Kaya HAD to take part, so Echo joined her as part of the crowd-in-the-round that chanted as they passed along the great and auspicious beads, touching their foreheads to the grace-laden big bead whenever it came round.

After everyone had had their fill of socializing, shopping and blessedness, we headed back home with all our treasures in cars full of sleepiness.

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