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.

Feel free to pin these pictures to your Pinterest board:

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

Erin-ji(恵林寺)

Erin-ji is a quiet Zen temple surrounded by the Yamanashi mountains. It was built in 1330, when Nikaidō Sadafuji the military governor of the Kai-no-kuni administration asked the Zen priest and garden designer Musō Soseki (夢窓 疎石), also known as Musō Kokushi, to found the temple.

At that time, it was a Rinzai Zen temple of the Engaku-ji branch. It was destroyed in the Ōnin war (1467-77), but rebuilt when the Takeda samurai clan appointed it to be their family temple. In 1541, it changed to be a temple of the Myōshin-ji branch of the Rinzai school. The famous daimyo Takeda Shingen (武田 信玄) is buried here.

It is quite surprising that you only see a few visitors in the temple, given its importance, size and beauty. There is a small dry landscape garden and a big pond garden. Especially the pond garden is impressive. The temple also features a nightingale floor whose wooden boards squeak, when a person (or ninja) tries to sneak up to the building.
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Contents:
  • Introduction
  • The monk and the garden
  • Cold fire and spiritual enlightenment
  • Architectural features of the temple
  • The Zen garden


10 pages, packed with
42 great Japanese garden pictures
in 14 MB
The eBook is delivered as PDF.

Feel free to pin these pictures to your Pinterest board:

Directions

How to get there
From Shinjuku station, take the JR Chuo Line (中央線) to Enzan Station (塩山駅). With the Rapid train, this takes about 1hour and 25 minutes. From there take the bus and get off at the bus stop called “Erin-ji”.

Telephone
0553-33-3011

Address
2280 Oyashiki Enzan , Koshu City 404-0053

Admission
300 Yen

Opening hours
8:30am – 4:30pm

Customer’s Voice

I’d never heard of Erin-ji before I read this ebook. The pictures are stunning and I’m surprised the garden and temple are not more widely known because they look absolutely gorgeous! The book also had the perfect amount of history – enough to give you an understanding, but not so much that you felt overwhelmed. Gorgeous book and looking forward to reading more..and going to Erin-ji sometime, of course!

N.R.

Kenchō-ji(建長寺)

Kenchō-ji is the oldest Zen training monastery in Japan and holds the highest rank in the Kamakura Five-Mountain system (五山). It was built in the Kamakura period (1192-1337), the construction was finished in 1273.

The layout of the temple follows the Chinese Ch’an (Zen) tradition, all the buildings are arranged on an axis. The garden can be found in the end of the temple complex, behind the Hōjō, the quarters of the head priest. Musō Soseki, a famous Zen priest, poet and garden designer, is said to have built the garden. The garden is a typical Zen garden, which uses few plants and materials. The pond in the garden reminds of the shape of the character 心, which stands for mind, heart and is an important element in Zen Buddhism.

Contents:
  • Introduction
  • Historical background – Kamakura period
  • History of the temple
  • The temple and gardens
  • Flowers and plants in the garden
  • Questions for Hayano-San
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Eating and Drinking
  • How to get there


14 pages
55 illustrations
21 MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

Feel free to pin these pictures to your Pinterest board:

Directions

How to get there
Kenchō-ji is a 15-20 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station on the JR Yokosuka Line, one station before Kamakura Station when coming from Tokyo.
It can also be reached in about a 15 minute walk from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Address JP: 神奈川県鎌倉市山ノ内8
Address EN: Kanagawa-Ken Kamakura-Shi Yama-no-uchi 8

Admission
300 Yen

Opening hours
8:30am to 4:30pm

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

Saihō-ji (Koke-dera)  (西芳寺 (苔寺))

The garden of Saihō-ji is acclaimed by many as Kyoto’s most beautiful garden and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. It is especially famous for its moss garden, for which reason it is also commonly known as Moss temple or Koke-dera (苔寺).

In 1339, the famous Zen monk Musō Soseki became the head priest of the temple and remodeled the garden. For him, creating gardens was part of his zen meditation routine. He founded a lot of temples and built or remodeled their gardens, but Saihō-ji is clearly his masterpiece.

Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408, 足利義満) sat here in meditation in the upper part of the garden commemorating the garden’s creator Musō Soseki. Yoshimitsu’s grandson shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1435-1490, 足利善政) loved this garden so much that he modeled his own retreat, the Temple of the Silver Pavillion – Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺), after Saihō-ji. Famous monks of different Buddhist sects have been head priests of the temple – namely Kūkai (774-835), Hōnen (1133-1212) and Musō Soseki (1275-1351). During the Edo period the temple fell into disrepair. It must have been at this time that moss slowly encroached the garden until it covered all of it. Today, there are roughly 120 types of moss in the garden.

The best times to view the garden are during the rainy season (mid-June until mid-July) and in autumn, when the red and orange of the maple’s leafs contrast nicely with the lush green of the velvety moss.

Contents
History of the temple
Buildings of the temple
Musō Soseki’s Garden Philosophy
The Moss
The Lower Garden
The Upper Garden
Jenny’s impressions
Registration process
How to get there
Literature

18 pages
84 illustrations
19.3 MB
2012

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Directions

How to get there
Saihō-ji is situated in the picturesque Arashiyama mountains to the west of Kyoto. Although you need to change trains, it is not very complicated to get there. First get to Katsura station by taking the Hankyu Kyoto line. In Katsura, change to the cute trains of the Hankyu Arashiyama line to get to Matsu-o station. From there, you can take a bus to get to Koke-dera (it says so big in big letters on the front of the bus). After that, it is only a short walk to the temple.

You can also go directly from Kyoto station with bus 28 until Matsuo-Taisha-mae and walk around 15 min in southern direction. From the Sanjō station of the Keihan line, you can take bus 63
to the final stop ‘Koke-dera’.

Address
Saihō-ji Temple
56 Jingatani-cho
Matsuo Nishikyo-ku
Kyoto, 615-8286, Japan

京都府京都市
西京区松尾神ヶ谷町56

Telephone
075-391-3631

Admission
Visiting the temple and its garden is only possible with previous registration by a return postcard (往復ハガキ).
You will be told on the return post card a time and date when visiting is possible. The entrance fee is 3.000 Yen.

Kenchō-ji  (建長寺)

Kenchō-ji is the oldest Zen training monastery in Japan and holds the highest rank in the Kamakura Five-Mountain system (五山). It was built in the Kamakura period (1192-1337), the construction was finished in 1273.

The layout of the temple follows the Chinese Ch’an (Zen) tradition, all the buildings are arranged on an axis. The garden can be found in the end of the temple complex, behind the Hōjō, the quarters of the head priest. Musō Soseki, a famous Zen priest, poet and garden designer, is said to have built the garden. The garden is a typical Zen garden, which uses few plants and materials. The pond in the garden reminds of the shape of the character 心, which stands for mind, heart and is an important element in Zen Buddhism.

Contents:
Introduction
Historical background – Kamakura period
History of the temple
The temple and gardens
Flowers and plants in the garden
Questions for Hayano-San
Jenny’s impressions
Eating and Drinking
How to get there

14 pages
55 illustrations
21 MB

Feel free to pin these pictures to your Pinterest board:

  •  Click to view details

Directions

How to get there
Kenchō-ji is a 15-20 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station on the JR Yokosuka Line, one station before Kamakura Station when coming from Tokyo. It can also be reached in about a 15 minute walk from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Address JP: 神奈川県鎌倉市山ノ内8
Address EN: Kanagawa-Ken Kamakura-Shi Yama-no-uchi 8

Admission
300 Yen

Opening hours
8:30am to 4:30pm

Zuisen-ji (Flower Temple)  (瑞泉寺 (花寺))

Zuisen-ji is a small temple hidden away in the eastern mountains of Kamakura. The temple’s nickname is ‘flower temple’ and its flower garden in the front of the temple is the most beautiful in Kamakura. It is a branch of the Engaku-ji temple in Kita-Kamakura. Zen priest, poet and garden designer Musō Soseki founded the temple with the support of Nikaidō Dōun, a powerful lord of the Yamanashi area in 1327.

After walking up the steep way to the temple, you can enjoy a breathtaking outlook on the surrounding mountains while resting under a wisteria arbor. This spot is especially famous in autumn when the mountain forests turn a bright yellow, orange and red. The garden seems enchanted – it has lots of gnarled, moss covered trees, overgrowing flowering shrubs and scattered perennials that partially cover old stone lanterns and garden stones.

The rock zen garden in the back was created by its founder and garden designer Musō Soseki. A cave and a pond with islands were carved from the rock of the mountains. Closed for the public, a steeply ascending passageway leads up to the to a meditation arbor and view point.

The temples mountain name (San-go 山号) is Kinpei-zan (錦屏山). The direct translation is Brocade-Wall-Mountain. Zuisen-ji received it because the near mountains around the temple (like a wall) glow bright like brocade in autumn, when the leaves change their colors.

Contents
Introduction
Historical background – Fall of the Kamakura Shogunate and beginning of the Muromachi period
History of the temple
Musō Soseki
The temple and garden – Ichiran-tei, Zen rock garden, Yagura
Plants in the garden
Jenny’s impressions
Eating and Drinking
How to get there
Literature

14 pages
51 illustrations
27.4 MB

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Directions

How to get there
English: 710 Nikaidō, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0002
Japanese: 神奈川県鎌倉市二階堂710

Zuisen-ji is located in the far east of Kamakura, rather distant from Kamakura Station.

On foot
It takes about 45-50 minutes to reach Zuisen-ji by foot from Kamakura Station or about 30 minutes from Hachimangu Shrine. The temple can also be reached via the attractive Tenen hiking trail which starts at Kencho-ji and leads through the wooded hills north of Kamakura in about 60-90 minutes.

By bus
The closest bus station to Zuisen-ji is located at Kamakura-gu Shrine. Take the bus 鎌20 towards Ōtō-nomiya 大塔宮 (鎌倉宮Kamakura-Gu ) from bus stop number 4. Get of at the last stop and walk from there about 10-15 minutes.

Opening times, entrance fee
9.00-17.00, 200 Yen

Meigetsu-in  (明月院)

Every year in June, after the rain season has begun, and the air gets hot and damp, thousands of visitors from Tokyo and Kamakura surge to the Meigetsu-in temple in Kita-Kamakura. This is the time, when the temple’s ajisai (紫陽花), the hydrangeas, are in full bloom and look their best.

Meigetsu-in is now a temple of the Rinzai Zen school of Buddhism. It was founded in 1383 (Muromachi period) by Uesugi Norikata, a powerful statesman of the Uesugi clan.

Apart from the hydrangea, which gave the temple its nickname Ajisai-dera (紫陽花寺), it is famous for an excellent dry landscape garden and the round windows of the main temple buildings. Like all Kamakura gardens, it is also beautiful in autumn when the leaves change color.

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eBook Coming Soon…

Directions

How to get there:

Meigetsu-in is a 10 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura station on the JR Yokosuka Line, one station before Kamakura station when coming from Tokyo.

Admission
300 Yen, in June 500 Yen

Opening hours
9am-4pm, in June 8:30am to 5pm