Kyoto


With some advance planning and passes, took the Shinkansen to Kyoto, less than 3 hours.

(cleaners, women in pink, men in blue!) waiting to board incoming train for quick cleaning)

"the stations are so clean you could eat off the floor!"

Arrived ! Found an amazing place to stay on airbnb called Tsukiya B & B, a traditional Machiya style home made of mud wood and paper! and yukatas (Japanese pajamas!)

Had some delicious home made soba noodle, made with green tea, served cold with a scallions and soy, very understated.

Met up with friend Kimiko from Kyoto and she kindly was the tour guide for a day of amazing Zen Gardens!

Daitoku-ji is a walled temple complex in northern Kyoto famed for both its historical associations and its many beautiful Zen gardens. There are actually 22 sub-temples within the compound’s walls, but only four of these are open on a regular basis. Other sub-temples have occasional and irregular “special” openings, but throughout much of the year they remain closed to the general public and are dedicated to religious matters. So when peeping in at the gates of most of these temples you will see a lot of signs that say “private” and “keep out”

Our first stop was Ryogen in Temple. Built in 1502, its meditation hall is the oldest in Japan and it also has Japan’s smallest rock garden. There are actually several gardens to view here, all with deeply symbolic meanings attached to them. The first garden is the Kodatei Garden. Its whirling patterns are said to represent the inhalation and exhalation of breath, which is fitting, as focusing on the breath is the first basic step of Zen meditation

circling the building counter-clockwise we then come to the Totekiko, the smallest garden in Japan. Despite its tiny size, its rocks and ripples represent the full power of cause and effect: how a drop, becomes a wave, and how a wave becomes the sea.

Circling round to the front of the meditation hall we come to the Isshidan Garden. Again the raked white sand here represents the sea, but the rocks represent islands from Chinese mythology, the tall rock at the far end depicting Mount Horai, the blessed island of immortality.

Circling round to the front of the meditation hall we come to the Isshidan Garden. Again the raked white sand here represents the sea, but the rocks represent islands from Chinese mythology, the tall rock at the far end depicting Mount Horai, the blessed island of immortality.

We then attempted to get into Koto in Temple with majestic bamboo, however it was closed as the bamboo had been damaged by a typhoon! I did manage to snap these...

finally to Daisen in Temple

The elaborate stone garden at Daisen-in is one of the most famous in Japan, but photography here is strictly forbidden and you will be asked to keep your camera in your bag. I’m not sure why they have this strict policy. It could be that it is a kind of Zen lesson. Putting away your camera, you are forced to control your desire to capture each moment and as you view the garden you must accept the transient nature of your experience. The absence of clicking shutters and jostling cameramen may also enable you to focus your mind more purely on the scene before you.

The trees out in front of this temple were my favorite ones of the day!


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