Kyoto, PA

Photo by embleton_s

If you've seen a Rocky movie then most likely you've seen the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It figures promininently in the training montage when he runs up the steps leading to the museum and galumphs about at the top.

Guidebooks will tell you about the various collections: Asian art, Dutch masters, modern art, armor and weapons, as well as the impressive building that houses the museum. But my favorite musueum experience is not mentioned in any guidebook.

Some of the most interesting items in the museum collection are reonstructed buildings and rooms from a variety of cultures and time periods: a mediaeval French cloister, a Chinese scholar's study from the Qing dynasty,... and a 14th-century Buddhist temple from Japan. If you go there, be sure to seek out this last.

Now: before you leave, close your eyes and inhale deeply. What you smell is the aroma of incense that has seeped into the wood over hundreds of years. It's the atmosphere that surrounds you as soon as you enter the great hall of any temple in Japan. It's a wonderfully evocative experience, and as far as I know this is the only place you can taste it on this side of the Pacific.