Kyoto – North Eastern area

OK, time for a bunch of photos and some words a five year old could’ve string together – wooo! Yesterday was another day of temples (something I’ve pretty much had my fill of now, if I’m being comlpetely honest), but it was less good than the day before because it started raining halfway through. Not that it deterred me – it just made me wet and cold and enjoy my hot dinner and cool beer even more.

First up was Daitoku-ji, a massive complex of temples in the North of Kyoto. It has 20 sub-temples, of which only four are open to the public. I went to visit two (as recommended by my guide book – I am a sheep – bahhh). The first of these was Daisen-in, in which you were not allowed to take photos.

The second was Ryogen-in, which had three very interesting and calming Zen rock gardens. If you want to read more on the gardens, you can click through to the Flickr set here and read the signs which I helpfully took photos of, but otherwise enjoy the pics below:

This one is designed to convey that thrown hard even small stones can create big ripples:

* I am just going to interrupt this post to express my surprise and disappointment at the lameitude of Wikipedia’s pages on these temples *

It was a mere 1.5km walk to the next temple, the awesome Kinkaku-ji. Whereas Ginkaku-ji is silver (or not, actually – it was never covered in silver in the end), this is… you’ve guessed it – gold. The actual building was rebuilt in the 50’s after an “unhappy monk” burnt the original one down. The temple says very little about this, but Wikipedia has redeemed itself by saying the following:

In 1950, the pavilion was burned down by a monk, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. He survived, but during the investigation after the monk’s arrest, his mother was called in to talk with the police; on her way home, she committed suicide by jumping from her train into a river valley. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison; he died of illness during his imprisonment in 1956. At that time, the statue of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was burned. A fictionalized version of these events is at the center of Yukio Mishima‘s 1956 book The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

Despite the crappy weather, it was a sight to behold and the golden temple was a shining beacon of shininess in an otherwise grey day:

As I approached my final destination, another garden – Ryoan-ji – it really started to rain. It got worse and worse and was pretty much torrential downpouring when I arrived (again, it was a several kilometre long walk to get there):

The Zen garden is actually very famous, and there were loads of people huddled and sitting on the viewing platform hoping for the rain to stop.

The also had some funky trees which I got to see thanks to the umbrella they leant me on the way out!

I hung around long enough to see the gardens, then got on the worlds smallest train back into central Kyoto (one tiny carriage the size of a bus) and headed back to the guesthouse for a dinner of rice and liver with soya sauce. And a beer. The diet thing is not working out at all.

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