Kyoto, 13 August 1893

To celebrate the Sunday we attended the holy mass in the French missionary church and devoted the day, our last in Kyoto, nearly completely to shopping. As the shop owners seemed to know that there was no chance of me returning, they were lowering their demands if they saw us leave without having achieved a deal.

The atmosphere was clean, the weather gorgeous — so I felt inspired by Buddhism towards the evening and leaning towards spending it in calm contemplation and meditate to the sunset. Looking for a suitable spot, I selected the Yaami Hotel. The choice was a fine one as the establishment was situated on a dominant hill and its veranda offered a wide panorama. The sunset left nothing to be desired too. For a few hours I settled down for a quiet rest and my eyes enjoyed themselves on the panorama. Below us lay the earnest temple groves with their huge Japanese cedars, the extended city out of whose sea of houses the roofs of the temples rise like mighty ships in a calm sea. In the distance gleam the softly undulating mountain ranges in the light of the setting sun. I sat, thought and dreamed about Kyoto’s glorious past, from the periods of splendor of ancient Japan, from the huge battles that this island people had to heroically endure through the centuries — until my eye was caught seeing the smoking factory stacks and this bothersome sight reminded me that in Japan too the era of European civilization had arrived whose main quality is its sobriety.

We no longer looked for the ideal but at the factory stacks. Japan has already learnt to look to us. With no intention to deny the importance of these critical buildings and the respect they are due, I still feel how inside of me, if such an audacious young modern smokestack stands next to an ancient temple that has seen the centuries come and go, the opposition to such a profanation becomes active and an egoistic sentiment grows which does not want to be disturbed in enjoying the beautiful and dignified by the presence of the mere useful. Very many Japanese will justly look proudly upon all the European discoveries that his homeland has mastered in such a short time, but when the ancient founders of sects and temples would rise out of their graves and see how their Japan has changed and tell what they have seen to the old Buddha in Nara, I believe that Daibutsu would shake his head so hard that he would lose it again.

Links

  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 13.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Die Walküre“.

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