Kyoto, Part II: Shrines

I could write all day just about our first few days in Kyoto, and all the interior design observations I’ve made. So many details, approaches, elements, etc. have been noticed! I definitely feel growth as a designer being here, observing and learning about the architecture and interiors of the spaces I’ve visited. Much of the observations I have made have been cultural and in nature, and this absolutely influences my design choices. The Fushima Inari Shrine has been my favorite outing to-date (not necessarily my favorite design or structure). The fact that it was an outdoor space, or vastly outdoors, tells me something about enjoyable spaces. We enjoy being outdoors! Okay, this is nothing new, I have stepped foot into my favorite architect’s designs (as of yesterday) and he definitely still holds his position as my favorite. Even after that experience, my favorite was by and large, outdoors. I’m sure there are many factors that play into this:

  • My kids were less whiny this day

  • The weather was absolutely perfect

  • It was our first sightseeing outing

Even so, we kept going back, and it felt wonderful each time. I want people to feel how I felt at that shrine, in their homes and places of work. I want people who visit these places to feel this way. So, what was so special about the Fushima Inari Shrine?

It was a new experience

One of the first things we saw as we entered the shrine was this amazing temple, where people rang bells by moving streamers in a circular motion. Nearby, food vendors lined the streets. All the senses were in action!

One of the first things we saw as we entered the shrine was this amazing temple, where people rang bells by moving streamers in a circular motion. Nearby, food vendors lined the streets. All the senses were in action!

Our homes get… old. The same thing every day, in and out. We have seen it all, done it all. There is nothing new to discover. But, what if our homes changed? What if they held surprises (even if it’s not a surprise to us, knowing the secret and sharing it with visitors can be a new experience each time). Expecting the entire home to transform is costly and may not always be possible. But, what if we could apply these principles in our existing spaces?

For example, who doesn’t love a good hidden room and moving bookshelf?

New experiences and hidden surprises provide us with excitement and intrigue in our own personal spaces.

It was hard to tell whether nature sprouted up around the shrine, or whether the shrine was developed within these amazing natural surroundings. It felt as though they grew together.

It was hard to tell whether nature sprouted up around the shrine, or whether the shrine was developed within these amazing natural surroundings. It felt as though they grew together.

We were warm and comfortable, and surrounded by nature.

While a simple remodel cannot exactly sweep your home into perfect passive heating and cooling, we can look at the simpler solutions, such as window treatments, in-floor heating. enhancing natural daylight, and using a heating and cooling system that cleans and filters the air. Another amazing system that filters the air is good old-fashioned plants! In every design, the stronger the connection to nature, the better we will feel.

Part of what was so amazing about this space is that it felt as though it were a part of nature, rather than something that took place within a natural setting. Working with what surrounds us, and creating that feeling of symbiosis allows us to feel as though we are also a part of nature (and really, aren’t we?).

Before starting that remodel, we take a look at the setting and work to bring that inside. If openings to the outside can get bigger, let’s do it! If materials used on the exterior can be used inside and vice versa, it’s a wonderful way to connect the two.

It engaged all our senses

Entering the shrine, there were smells of wonderful foods from a street market. As we walked through the shrine, we could smell the candles burning, the warm smells of nature, and incense at the smaller shrines within.

Throughout the hike, we could hear the sound of the bamboo rubbing on bamboo (a strange, wild sound that my boys decided was a creepy creature in the trees), the sounds of a baseball game at a nearby park, and the bells rung at the larger shrines within.

Visually, well.. it was gorgeous. They used a bright “vermillion” red-orange which was meant to inspire brightness and signify prosperity. It truly felt bright, cheerful and prosperous! The placement of the shrines appeared like small villages as we turned a corner.

This was the view after turning a corner. It looks like a small village. On closer approach, each little “hut” is a different shrine.

This was the view after turning a corner. It looks like a small village. On closer approach, each little “hut” is a different shrine.

Finally, touch- the warmth of the sun, the fresh breeze, the ground under our feet as we walked the mountain trails.

Engaging our senses in our home is so important. Have you ever returned home to find that the cat pooped in the doorway and the place stinks? Or, it’s freezing cold because the power went out? How does the flooring feel on your bare feet when returning from a day at the beach? These are things that are important to us. While we can’t prevent your cat from pooping in the doorway, we can make product selections that do not offgas, providing healthy indoor air quality. We can’t tell your noisy neighbors to keep the volume down, but we can create solutions that provide sound barriers and invite outdoor sounds in when they are wanted. We work with consultants to provide excellent audio systems into your home. We provide lighting that will create the ambiance of daylight, moonlight, or candle light. Our job is not to just make your space look good- it is to make it feel good to all your senses!

Now that I’ve rambled endlessly about this one, single shrine. I want to share a few images of the other shrines we visited. Feel free to click the images and hover over them for captions:

Toji Temple

Okay, maybe not a shrine…

Kiyomizu Shrine

Kiyomizu translates to “Water Contribution”

Next, we headed out for Tokyo!! Stay tuned for that post:

View of Tokyo from our apartment

View of Tokyo from our apartment

Rachel WaldronComment