The Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji)(銀閣寺 (慈照寺))

The second most famous temple in Kyōto and little brother of Kinkaku-ji is the Ginkaku-ji on the eastern hills of Kyōto. It was built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the grandson of the founder of Kinkaku-ji. While the Kinkaku-ji sparkles brightly in its golden coating, the Ginkaku-ji was planned to be covered completely in leaf silver.

However, due to the Ōnin war (1477-87) and the shōguns pursuit of perfection, construction of the estate was postponed again and again and might be the reason that the silver coating was never applied. During renovation works in 2008 it was considered to coat the temple in silver just as it was intended to be, but after a long discussion, the temple’s board came to the conclusion that the concept of Wabi-Sabi is conved better with a wooden temple. As his grandfather Yoshimitsu, Yoshimasa planned to live in this palace after his retirement, isolated from the everyday life outside. Yoshimasa is said to have spent several years on planning the estate, and even chose the stones used for the pond garden himself.

Looking at the pictures of the temple and garden, how would you have planned a villa and garden on this estate if you had the opportunity? While being a less than strong political leader, Yoshimasa was said to be an aesthete, a lover of culture, tea ceremony and a big supporter of Zen Buddhism, even a highly ranked zen practitioner. Envision him taking walks in the garden, enjoying a tea prepared by his tea master or sitting quietly in meditation with a view on the garden.

Contents:
  • Introduction
  • Historical Background – The Muromachi period and Ashikaga Yoshimasa
  • History of the temple and the Garden
  • Buildings and garden
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Omiyage from Kyoto
  • How to get there


10 pages
30 illustrations
11 MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Directions

How to get there
Bus: From Kyōto station, take bus number 5, 17 or 100 and get off at the Ginkaku-ji bus stop (35min, 220yen).
By foot: If you prefer to experience Kyōto by foot, take a walk on the pittoresque Philosopher’s Path (30min from Nanzen-ji).

Address
EN: 〒606-8402, Sakyō-Ku, Ginkaku-ji-Chō 2
JP: 〒606-8402, 京都市左京区銀閣寺町2

Tel
075-771-5725

Opening hours
8:30am-5pm (Mar-Nov)
9am-4:30pm (Dec-Feb)

Admission
500 Yen

Daisen-in (Daitoku-ji)(大徳寺、大仙院)

Do you want to experience Zen Buddhist philosophy first hand and meet a zen priest that makes you laugh? Do you want to find out where key persons of the Japanese history have lived and worked? Daitoku-ji and its sub-temple Daisen-in are the places to go. Here, the influential tea master Sen no Rikyu underwent strict Zen training in his early years and, as an accomplished tea master, held tea ceremonies for the Shogun under the roof of Daisen-in.

The Daitoku-ji is a temple complex with numerous sub-temples in the northern part of Kyoto. It is one of the main temples of the Rinzai school. In the height of the 16th century it became one of Kyoto’s most important temples.

The subtemple Daisen-in is one of the five most important Zen temples in Kyoto. It has five small extraordinary well maintained gardens. The gardens are all connected and tell the metaphorical story of journey through life according to Buddhism. Within the grounds of the Daitoku-ji, the Daisen-in has a position of particularly high rank. It is one of the few examples of Zen temples from the Muromachi period that still have their original form. The temple was founded in 1509 and by Kogaku Soko and was built between 1509 and 1513. Legend has it, that Soami, the great landscape designer, zen monk, and ink painter, has built the garden with his own hands. With this eBook you can discover the hidden meanings of stone arrangements, gravel patterns and the use and position of particular plants.

Contents
  • Introduction
  • Historical Background – The Muromachi period
  • History of the temple and the Garden
  • Daitoku-ji – Buildings and Highlights
  • Daisen-in – The gardens and their meaning
  • Questions for Hayano-San
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Eating and Drinking
  • How to get there
9 pages
20 illustrations
3.1 MB

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Directions

How to get there
Bus: Take the bus 205 or 206 and get off at the stop ‘Daitoku-ji’.
Subway: Take the Karasuma line to Kitaō-ji station and walk about 15 minutes in a westward direction.

Admission
400 Yen

Address
EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Murasakino, 53 Daitoku-ji-Chō
JP: 〒603-8231, 京都市 北区 紫野 大徳寺町53

Telephone
075-491-0019

Opening hours
9am-4.30pm

Zuihō-in (Daitoku-ji)  (瑞峯院)

Zuihō-in is an extraordinary temple in Kyoto: It was founded by daimyo Otomo, who was one of the early Christians in Japan. He founded the temple as his family temple; he and his wife are buried here as well. Garden designer Shigemori Mirei, who created the gardens in 1961, included a Garden of the Cross and even a statue of the Virgin Mary in reference to the founder.

The temple itself was built in 1546, after the Onin war (1467-77), so many of its building have never burnt and are still in their original shape.

The main garden to the south of the Hōjō is called Dokuza-tei (独坐庭 ). The Chinese characters mean Alone-Sitting-Garden and refer to an Island of the Taoist mythology. From the famous Horai-Zan, the Mountain of the Blessed, a long and thin peninsula protrudes into the rough sea. Even further away is a single island, sitting alone in the rough waters of the wide sea. If you look at the garden, it is actually really easy to see the Horai-zan in the right-hand corner, the peninsula in front of it and the rough sea.

Contents

Introduction
Daitoku-ji
History of Zuihō-in
-Shigemori Mirei-
Buildings
   -Hōjō
   -Teahouse Yokei-an
   -Teahouse Anshō-ken
   -Teahouse Heisei-tai-an
   -Gates
Gardens
   -Entry Garden
   -Dokuza-tei
   -Kanmin-tei
   -Tea gardens
Anika’s Impressions
Recommendations around Zuihō-in
Access & General Information
Related eBooks

12 pages full of information about the temple
21 pictures of the gardens

PDF 15 MB

 
 

Zuiho-in Video

Watch the Zuiho-in video here.

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Directions

How to get there
Bus: Take the bus 205 or 206 and get off at the stop ‘Daitoku-ji’.
Subway: Take the Karasuma line to Kitaō-ji station and walk about 15 minutes in a westward direction.

Admission
400 Yen

Address
EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Murasakino, 53 Daitoku-ji-Chō
JP: 〒603-8231, 京都市 北区 紫野 大徳寺町53

Telephone
075-491-1454

Opening hours
9am – 5pm

Ōbai-in (Daitoku-ji)(黄梅院)

Ōbai-in is one of the secret sub-temples of Daitoku-ji and has one of Japan’s best-designed garden. It is only open for a few weeks in November, which is also the best time for visiting.

The temple was founded in 1562 as Ōbai-an (黄梅庵). Tea master and garden designer Sen no Rikyu (at that time 62 years old) is said to have designed the moss-covered garden. It features a Sanzonseki (stone arrangement in form of a Buddhist triad) and a small pond in the shape of a gourd. There is also an unusually shaped lantern brought by daimyo Kato Kiyomasa from his infamous campaign against Korea.

The Kuri is one of the oldest in Japan, and the paintings on the sliding doors (“Seven sages of the bamboo grove”, painted by Unkoku Togan) have survived from the 16th century until today.

Sen no Rikyu is said to have conducted tea ceremonies in one of the tea rooms of the Shoin (study) called Sakumuken (The dream of last night).

If you have a chance to visit this temple in November, make every effort to do so as it has one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan.


Contents of the book

 

Introduction
Daitoku-ji
History of Ōbai-in
Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Buildings
Hondō
(Fusuma-e)
Shoin
Kuri
Shōro
Kōshin-in
Graves

Teahouses
Fudo-ken
Sakumu-ken
Kōshun-an
Isshi-an

Gates
Karamon
Omotemon

Gardens
Entry garden
Sabutsu-tei
Kanza-tei
Jikichu-tei
Hatō-tei

Anika’s Impressions
Recommendations around Obai-in
How to get there

12 pages
19 pictures of the temple and gardens
10MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.


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Directions

How to get there

Bus: Take the bus 205 or 206 and get off at the stop ‘Daitoku-ji’.

Subway: Take the Karasuma line to Kitaō-ji station and walk about 15 minutes in a westward direction.

Admission

600 Yen

(Discount-ticket in combination with Kōrin-in is available.)

Address

EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Murasakino, 53 Daitoku-ji-Chō

JP: 〒603-8231, 京都市 北区 紫野 大徳寺町53

Opening hours

Open only in late November/ early December, and in spring, between 9am-4.30pm

Nanzen-ji  (南禅寺)

Nanzen-ji is the name of a temple and the surrounding temple complex at the foot of Kyoto’s eastern mountains (Higashi-yama). It was built in the Heian period (794-1185) on the grounds of Tennō Kameyama’s detached palace. The emperor was in favor of Zen Buddhism and supported the relatively new religion, introducing it to the aristocratic circles. It is the head temple of the Nanzen-ji branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Of special importance is the dry landscape garden (kare-sansui) in front of the Hōjō, the head priest’s quarters. The fusuma-e, the paintings on wooden sliding doors, are also impressive. They have been painted by painters of the famous Kanō school.

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Directions

The most beautiful way to get to Nanzen-ji is to walk the picturesque Philosopher’s path, which connects Nanzen-ji and Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion.

As for the subway, Keage Station on the Tozai line is a short 7-10 minute walk away. If you prefer to go by bus, take bus number 5 and get off at Nanzenji-Eikando-michi.

How to get there
Take city bus number 5 and get off the bus at the Nanzen-ji bus stop. Walk about 10 minutes in eastern direction.

Address
Nanzenji-Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city
京都市左京区南禅寺福地町

Telephone
075-771-0365

Opening hours
December-February: 8:40am – 4:30pm
March-November: 8:40am – 5pm

The temple is closed from December 28th to 31st.

Admission
500 Yen

Tōfuku-ji – Garden of the Hōjō  (東福寺)

Tōfuku-ji is one of the Five Great Zen temples in the Kyoto Mountain system. It is a temple complex in southern Kyoto with 24 sub-temples.

Its garden were redesigned by the scholar Mirei Shigemori in the 1930s. He had studied the traditional Japanese gardens for decades before starting to design gardens himself. He built his designs on the old garden design principles, and connected them to the contemporary Japanese design of that time. The result are impressive gardens like the four gardens of Tōfuku-ji that surround the hōjō, the former head priest’s quarters.

Another remarkable feature of this tempe is the big mountain gate (山門 – San-mon) to the south of the garden. It is the oldest San-mon in Japan. The temple was built in 1236 (Kamakura period), and the founding priest is Enni Ben’en, a Japanese priest that went to China to study Zen buddhism. He is also believed to have imported the Udon wheat noodles, until today one of the most popular dishes in Japan.

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Directions

Take the Nara line from Kyoto station towards Nara. Get off at the first stop, Tōfuku-ji, and walk in southern direction until you get to the temple.

Admission
400 yen

Opening Times
April – October: 9am – 4:30pm
Novemer – early December: 8:30am – 4:30pm
mid December – to March: 9am – 4pm

Ryōgin-an (Tōfuku-ji)  (龍吟庵)

The Ryōgin-an is famous for its three gardens designed by the modern Japanese garden designer Shigemori Mirei in 1964. In contrast to the gardens, the temple and its buildings are really old. At first, it was the residence of the 3rd head priest of Tōfuku-ji, who also founded the famous temple complex Nanzen-ji. After his death in 1291, his quarters were converted into a temple in the late 14th century.

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Directions

Take the Nara line from Kyoto station towards Nara. Get off at the first stop, Tōfuku-ji, and walk in southern direction until you get to Tōfuku-ji.

Tenryū-ji  (天龍寺)

The temple was founded by shogun Ashikaga Takauji in 1339, primarily to venerate Gautama Buddha, and its first head priest was Musō Soseki. Construction was completed in 1345. As a temple related to both the Ashikaga family and Emperor Go-Daigo, the temple is held in high esteem, and is ranked number one among Kyoto’s so-called Five Mountains. In 1994, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”.

There are two different tickets – one for the garden and another for the temple buildings itself. We saw the garden only, but would recommend to buy the temple ticket, as you get to see the garden from the temple and the inside of great fusuma-e, the sliding screen paintings on the inside of the temple.

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Directions

Address
68 Saga-tenryuji-susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Admission
500 Yen
Opening hours
April – October: 8:30am – 5:30pm
November-March: 8:30am – 5pm

Ryōan-ji  (龍安寺)

Ryōan-ji is maybe the most famous rock garden of Japan.

Ryoan-ji was built on the grounds of a villa of the Fujiwara clan in the Heian period (794-1185). The deputy of the shogun and warlord Hosokawa Katsumoto bought the estate in 1450 and built his residence on it, together with the temple Ryōan-ji. It was destroyed in the Onin war, but rebuilt in 1488 by Katsumoto’s son Matsumoto. It is probable that the garden of the temple was also created at that time, but some scholars argue that it was built earlier by Katsumoto or later, for example, by Zen monk and garden designer Sōami, who also built the dry landscape garden (karesansui) of Daisen-in.

The temple burnt down in 1797, and the garden was recreated later. As a print of the year 1799 shows, the garden today hasn’t changed since that time.

Apart from little patches of moss around the stones, this Japanese garden has no plants. Behind the mud wall a row of trees create a green backdrop for the garden, making the light gray sand seem even brighter. The design is more complex than it seems at first – for example is it impossible to view all 15 stones at once from any angle of the terrace. The composition is also a fine example for the delicate balance of mass and void and the skillful use of numbers and groups.

Contents:
Introduction
History of the temple
The Rock Garden of Ryoan-ji
Around the Rock Garden
Sub temples of Ryōan-ji
Around the pond
How to get there
Other temples near Ryoanji

15 pages
37 illustrations/pictures
30 MB / 26MB
2015

eBook will be delivered as pdf and mobi

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Directions

How to get there
Two bus lines are getting you to Ryoanji – Either take city bus number 50 to the last stop Ritsumeikan-Daigaku-Mae and walk for seven minutes in direction of travel, or take city bus number 59 until the stop Ryoan-ji Mae.
If you are traveling with the trains of the Keifuku Railway line (they look more like trams), you can get off at Ryoan-ji Michi station and walk north for 7 minutes.

Opening hours
March – November: 8am to 5pm
December – February: 8:30am to 4:30pm

Admission
500 yen