Favourite Kyoto temples

Pictures of revered teachers, places, rupas, temples, shrine rooms etc. that bring inspiration to our members. Pilgrimage advice etc.
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Kim O'Hara
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Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Nov 05, 2016 6:47 am

Guidebooks and tourist websites (Japan guide http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2158.html is one of the best) all mention half a dozen particularly famous or beautiful temples around Kyoto and we visited most of them, plus a few others, during our holiday. In terms of getting around, they fall into two groups plus “the rest” which are scattered all over the place.
Map: http://kyoto.asanoxn.com/info/kyotomap.htm

In the East there’s a long line of them running along the eastern fringe of the city, in the foothills of the mountains. From North to South:
Ginkakau-ji (silver pavilion)
Eikando
Nanzen-ji
Kiyomizu-dera (the one with the terrace)
Chion-in
The Philosopher’s Path runs from near Ginkaku-ji to Eikando, and the Fushimi Inari Shrine is further South on the same side of the city. Both are well worth a visit.

North-West:
Kinkaju-ji (golden pavilion)
Ryoan-ji (zen)
Ninna-ji (with a former imperial residence)
Arashiyama is a beautiful area just to the South of these, with a couple more temples, a broad river, a bamboo grove and a monkey park.

There’s another group in the South-West but none are quite so highly recommended by the guides and we didn’t get to any of them.

Out of all these, our favourite was Eikando. The gardens are gorgeous, the buildings are beautiful, maintenance was meticulous, the view from the foot of the pagoda was wonderful and the atmosphere was serene.
We might have enjoyed Ginkakau-ji and Ryoan-ji just as much except that they were so crowded.
Our second favourite was Ninna-ji - for quite different reasons but again, one of the crucial factors was that is wasn’t crowded. There are plenty of photos of the most famous (and therefore busiest) temples on the internet so I will just post a few each from Eikando and Ninna-ji.

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Kim

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:37 am

What first attracted our attention to Ninna-ji was its main gate with an impressive guardian on either side, but the most beautiful part of the temple was the abbot's residence. (Why? Well, for many years the abbot's role went to a member of the imperial family. :thinking: )
It's a great example of the court architecture of the time, a string of pavilions linked by a raised wooden walkway and framing a series of courtyard gardens. (Incidentally, this is exactly the kind of house the father provided for Princess Kaguya in the Ghibli animated movie.)

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{cont. below]
Last edited by Kim O'Hara on Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:39 am

Apart from that, Ninna-ji's grounds are relatively plain but the major buildings are good, and they came to life for us as we watched a small group of monks make their evening rounds, chanting in front of each of them.

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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby DGA » Sun Nov 06, 2016 12:54 am

Did you make it up the hill to Enryakuji?

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Nov 06, 2016 2:57 am

DGA wrote:Did you make it up the hill to Enryakuji?

No. It looks like a spectacular setting, though - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3911.html.

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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Nov 06, 2016 3:16 am

Now ... Eikando, "headquarters of the Seizan Zenrinji School of the Pure Land sect" according to the tourist information plaque, and named after the high priest Eikan (1033-1111) who contributed to its restoration.

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Nov 06, 2016 3:46 am

Image

Golden Pavilion

Most people here probably already know it, but Kyoto was on the list of possible targets for the Atomic Bomb in WW2. :jawdrop:

Thank goodness, Secretary Stimson removed it from the list due to its historical and religious importance.

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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Admin_PC » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:25 am

Wow thanks for the pictures guys!
I really need to spend some serious time in Kyoto someday.
Eikando - isn't that the home of the Mikaeri Amida (Amitabha Looking Back)?
If so, that's probably #1 on my bucket list when it comes to seeing Buddhist heritage in Japan.
http://eikando.or.jp/English/mikaeri_amida_e.html
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/a ... kaeriAmida
Image
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:43 am

Admin_PC wrote:Wow thanks for the pictures guys!
I really need to spend some serious time in Kyoto someday.
Eikando - isn't that the home of the Mikaeri Amida (Amitabha Looking Back)?
If so, that's probably #1 on my bucket list when it comes to seeing Buddhist heritage in Japan.
http://eikando.or.jp/English/mikaeri_amida_e.html
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/a ... kaeriAmida
Image

Yes, that's the one. Lovely story behind the image, too.

:smile:
Kim

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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Queequeg » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:36 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Golden Pavilion


This is actually a reconstruction. The original was burned down in the 1950 by a monk who developed a very unnatural affinity to it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinkaku-ji

Most people here probably already know it, but Kyoto was on the list of possible targets for the Atomic Bomb in WW2. :jawdrop:

Thank goodness, Secretary Stimson removed it from the list due to its historical and religious importance.


Kamakura was also a target for firebombing but was removed from the list for its historical significance.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
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Queequeg
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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Queequeg » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:42 pm

My two favorite sculptures in Kyoto:
Image
Kuya chanting Nembutsu, by Unkei (probably the greatest Japanese Buddhist sculptor)

Image
Miroku at Koryuji
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Admin_PC » Tue Nov 15, 2016 12:03 am

I love both of those statues. The Kuya statue is also in my top 5 bucket list.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Kim O'Hara » Tue Nov 15, 2016 12:19 pm

Queequeg wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:
Golden Pavilion

This is actually a reconstruction. The original was burned down in the 1950 by a monk who developed a very unnatural affinity to it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinkaku-ji

So many of the 'ancient' Japanese buildings are reconstructions, to one extent or another, that the calendar age of any particular structure almost doesn't matter.
Himeji Castle? They pulled it apart (1956 onwards) and rebuilt it with (mostly) original materials. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himeji_Castle
Osaka Castle? Reconstructed in ferro-concrete in the 1930s. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4000.html
Kanazawa Castle?
The castle burnt down several times over the centuries, and the most recent fires of 1881 were survived only by two storehouses and the Ishikawa-mon Gate. The gate dates from 1788 and faces Kenrokuen. For several decades, Kanazawa University occupied the former castle grounds until the campus was moved to the city's outskirts in the early 1990s. Since then, a project is underway to rebuild the castle's former buildings. In the meantime, most central structures are standing again and make a visit more interesting.
The first buildings to be reconstructed were the two turrets (Hishi and Tsuzuki Yagura) and a long storehouse (Gojukken Nagaya) that connects the two turrets. The buildings were rebuilt to their original 1850s appearance using traditional techniques and materials. They were opened to the public in 2001 and contain excellent displays on traditional carpentry.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4202.html

The temples are the same. Individual buildings have been burnt down and replaced by others which were built in the same style - or not. Buildings were moved from one temple to another, etc. In the end I came to the conclusion that the age of the current incarnation of a building was less important than its artistic quality or its function, although the age of the temple as an institution did make a difference. Also that the average 'real' age of all the buildings we saw was probably not much over 150 years, although the average 'historical' age of the temples and castles was more like 600.

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Kim

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Re: Favourite Kyoto temples

Postby Queequeg » Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:46 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:So many of the 'ancient' Japanese buildings are reconstructions, to one extent or another, that the calendar age of any particular structure almost doesn't matter...

The temples are the same. Individual buildings have been burnt down and replaced by others which were built in the same style - or not. Buildings were moved from one temple to another, etc. In the end I came to the conclusion that the age of the current incarnation of a building was less important than its artistic quality or its function, although the age of the temple as an institution did make a difference. Also that the average 'real' age of all the buildings we saw was probably not much over 150 years, although the average 'historical' age of the temples and castles was more like 600.


That's why some temples are truly remarkable.

The pagoda at Horyuji, for instance, dates from the sixth c. - a fourteen hundred year old wooden structure - among one of the oldest wooden structures in the world. To consider that the structure before you was constructed by people who lived when the Roman Empire was still around.

In pointing out that Kinkakuji is only about 50 years old - it doesn't take away from its significance or beauty... my actual point was to bring attention to the bizarre story around its destruction. The gardens are beautiful. Its brilliance, though, is because its so new. Compare Ginkakuji which presumably was gilt in silver at some point... now it looks like an ancient building with a dull patina.

Between the earthquakes and war, almost nothing of these ancient temples is original, or particularly old. When a building has, however, survived so long... it is something worth noting.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
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