April 30th, 2010

drinking bird

Trip to Japan: Kyoto

Kyoto remains one of the most interesting cities I have visited. It has great charm and is full of treasures. One of the days there, I met my friend Aya, and a friend of hers, Izumi, and we went to visit several places. Our first stop was Tofuku-ji. It has sand gardens, but they seem different from others.

Here is one view

And another, less austere

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I liked this gallery, which is actually a covered bridge over a little valley and stream

Afterwards, we went on to Byodo-in in Uji-shi. This temple is 1000 years old. Most of the original buildings are gone, but the most important one, the Phoenix Hall, survives. The temple used to be painted red, like Miyajima, which in fact it evokes with its galleries and the water nearby, but the paint disappeared over the centuries, and now only the natural wood remains. The temple has a beautiful Heian garden.

This is one wing

The center and left part. The roof design is supposed to evoke the wings of a phoenix.

An interesting moss garden

We finished our day with a visit at Mimurodo-dera, where we actually arrived at the same time as a group of pilgrims in traditional garb [white clothes, conical hats, walking sticks, etc.] The shrine has an interesting bell

But actually more interesting are the grounds, home to some 20,000 azaleas, thousand of rhododendrons and hydrangeas. Unfortunately, it was too early in the season, and they were not in bloom. Have to come back!

This marked the end of my Kyoto visit. I will be back in August and hope to see some more then.