Japan: more temples

museum exhibition

First stop today: the national museum of Kyoto, which I came accross by chance, and which currently has a special exhibition of Ike No Taiga. Never heard of him, but seemed to be a big name, was wondering if it was worth the rather steep ticket price, when a Japanese girl in front of me turned around, took a ticket from her hand and gave it to me, saying “here, present for you”. I have no idea why, but hey, I’ll take it.

No pictures form inside the exhibition allowed, sadly – so you’ll have to believe me that it was a very unusual style (ink paintings and calligraphy from 17th century Japan is not exactly common in Germany), but because of that well worth seeing. I did not see the genius in some of the more abstract paintings, but he certainly had a unique and calm, restrained style.

ryoan garden

Next up: Ryoanji. This is like the Mona Lisa of Zen gardens – if you’ve only ever seen one yen garden, the image above is probably the one you’ve seen. It’s famous for its 15 stones being positioned in a way that there is no place from which you can see all at once (yes, I did have to try). I don’t quite see why exactly this one is so special, but it is beautiful in an abstract way, no doubt.

tofuku stone

Next: Tofuku, another famous temple.

tofuku rocks

Another zen garden, similar in style to the one at Ryoan, but does not quite have the same kind of perfect serenity.

tofuku gravel

Another garden, with some rather abstract gravel field.

tofuku famous

Aaand another really famous zen garden, this one rather modern. Can’t say that I saw what was so special about this one.

tofuku flower

Still beautiful – I could take pictures of Japanese gardens all day long. Well, did, in fact.

So here’s one more.

tofuku garden

tofuku columns

Tofuku is also famous because it has zen gardens on all sides of the main building, each in a different style. This one with large stone columns – again, no idea why. Probably symbolizes some important concept in zen philosophy, or some mystical geography, but I don’t know enough about it to tell you what exactly.

tofuku monks

These guys probably smelled my ignorance, because they shooed me away from entering the inside, even though there were plenty of people already there. Way to go, teachers…

imperial fishes

On the way, passed along a kind of children’s fun fair. Some of the stalls had little fish for the kids to catch and take along, or even tiny turtles – to eat? as pets? No idea why.


ginkaku flower

Just the front of a random old house on the way, but beautiful.

yasaka gate me

And another temple: yazaka.

yasaka wash

How to temple properly: First, wash your face and hands using the ladle provided at a fountain on the temple grounds.

yasaka bell

The step up to the temple, bow, pull the cord to ring the bell, clap twice, and bow again.

inari wishes

Then, for a donation, put up a wish or blessing.

yasaka exit

All done, going home for the day.




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