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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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
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
in June 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Gardens

Kōrin-in (Daitoku-ji)(興臨院)

Kōrin-in is a sub-temple of Daitoku-ji. It was founded in 1520 as a family temple for the Hatekeyama family. The temple building (Hōjō, 方丈, abbot’s quarter) built in the Shoin architectural style of the Muromachi period. Apart for the Zen garden, the temple is famous for its tea room Kankyo-tei.

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eBook coming…

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 Ōbai-in is available.)

Address
EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Murasakino, 80 Daitoku-ji-Chō
JP: 〒603-8231, 京都市 北区 紫野 大徳寺町80

Opening hours
Open only in autumn, between 10:00 am – 5:00pm

Website with opening time frames
https://kyotoshunju.com/temple/daitokuji-kohrinin/
Gardens

The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)(金閣寺 鹿苑寺)

Kinkaku-ji (the more popular name for its actual name Rokuon-ji – 鹿苑寺) is one of the most famous temples in Japan and a definite must-see on you Kyoto bucket list. The awe-inspiring sight of the richly decorated golden temple that seems to float over the mirror pond is worth a visit to Kyōto alone. In combination with the numerous islands and pine trees, it looks almost surreal.

The estate was originally constructed as a retirement pavilion by the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397, it was turned into a Zen temple after Yoshimitsus death in 1408. During the Onin war (1467-77) the buildings and garden of Rokuon-ji faced the same fate as many other temples in Kyōto – they were completely destroyed by fire. Fortunately the pavilion survived the fire and the rest of the garden was restored. In 1950 the pavilion was burnt down by a young novice monk and needed to be rebuild in 1955. It was rebuilt very close to the original, although more parts of the pavilion received a leaf gold coating on the inside and outside.

The garden is an extraordinary example of a Japanese strolling garden of the Muromachi period. A path leads around the pond, offering great viewing axes and photo spots to take beautiful pictures of the temple.

If you come early, you can avoid the crowds, but have to share the garden with school children of all ages from all over Japan. A visit usually takes between 30 and 50 minutes. You can also have a cup of Matcha tea and traditional Japanese sweet (Wagashi 和菓子) in the garden.

Contents
  • Introduction
  • Historical Background
  • History of the Temple and the Garden
  • Buildings and Garden
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Questions for Hayano-San
  • Eating and Drinking
  • Directions

11 pages
19 illustrations
17 MB
2012


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Directions

How to get there
Bus: Take the bus 101 or 205 and get off at the stop ’Kinkaku-ji’. From Tokyo Station it takes around 40 minutes and costs 220 yen.
Subway: Take the Karasuma line to Kitaō-ji station. From there you can take a taxi (10min and 900 yen) or the bus 101, 102, 204 or 205 (10 min, 220 yen).

Address EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Kinkaku-ji-Chō 1
Address JP: 〒603-8361, 京都府京都市 北区 金閣寺町1
Tel: 075-461-0013

Admission
400 yen

Opening hours
9:00am to 5:00pm
Gardens

Hōkoku-ji(報国寺)

Hōkoku-ji is a small Zen temple in Kamakura, world-famous for its bamboo grove of more than 2000 Mōsō bamboos. It is also called Take-dera (Bamboo temple) for that reason.

The temple was founded in 1334, a time of turbulence and unrest in Japan. The Kamakura shogunate had just been defeated, and the first Ashikaga shogun Takauji established his rule in Kyoto. Takauji’s grandfather, Ashikaga Ietoki, ordered Zen priest Tengan Ekō to found Hōkoku-ji. Just as the famous garden designer and Zen priest Musō Kokushi, Tengan was a disciple of priest Mugaku Sogen, the founding priest of Engaku-ji in Kita-Kamakura.

This temple became the family temple of the Ashikaga clan as well as the Uesugi clan. Both families shared the power in Kamakura. In 1439, the temple became the scene of a family drama: Shogun Yoshinori attacked Kamakura to re-establish his power in the east. The Kamakura ruler, Ashikaga Mochiuji and his son Yoshihisa were forced to kill themselves to escape capture. Hōkoku-ji is the place the 13 year old Yoshihisa chose for the ritual suicide by disembowelment better known as Seppuku (切腹) or Harakiri (腹切り) .

After the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, most buildings had to be rebuilt – none of the original structures remain. Still, old stone lanterns, gorinto gravestones and the yagura tomb caves make the thousand year old past come alive.

There is a small tea house hidden away behind the cool bamboo grove. For 600 yen, visitors receive a bowl of powdered green tea and traditional Japanese sweets. The carefully maintained Zen garden behind the main hall is also a nice place to rest and take in the atmosphere.

Contents of the eBook:
  • Introduction
  • History of the temple
  • Stone Lanterns, gorinto and Buddha statues
  • Bamboo in the garden
  • Plants in the garden
  • The Zen garden
  • The Tea garden
  • Yagura


12 pages filled with all necessary information about the garden and packed with
47 excellent garden pictures
8MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Directions

How to get there
Take the bus 鎌23 from the Kamakura main station. After 6 stops (about 8 min), get off at the bus stop Jōmyō-ji (浄明寺). From the bus stop, walk a few meters back, cross the street and walk straight ahead until you get to the gate of Hōkoku-ji temple.

Opening Times
9am – 4pm

Admission
300 yen for the bamboo garden

Address
7-4, Jomyoji 2-chome, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0003
Gardens

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
Gardens

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.

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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.

Gardens

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

Gardens

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

Gardens