Where We Be
|Ginkakuji means "Silver Pavilion. " The original plan was to
cover the exterior in silver foil, but that never quite happened.
|Kyoto, Japan -- Key Sights (Day 2)
Kyoto is no small town; it's a city with nearly 2
million inhabitants, and it's more spread out
than we expected. We'd recommend purchasing
an all-day bus pass to get between the various
temples because the distances are usually too
great to walk. The entire city is peppered with
temples -- a fair number of which are situated in
really spectacular settings. Kyoto is ringed by
mountains, so there's plenty of nature to go
along with all the culture. We found ourselves
wishing we could come back in other seasons
to see the temples surrounded by cherry
blossoms in spring and red maples in autumn.
On our second day we focused on two temples
that ARE within easy walking distance of each
other -- Ginkakuji and Eikando temples. They
are connected by a famous path known as the
Philosopher's Walk (about 2 km or 1.25 mi). If
you're looking for an easier day of touring,
mostly on foot, this makes for a pleasant outing.
|This map gives a good idea of how extensive the temple complex is
|Zen gardens of rock and sand are intended to invite contemplation. On the left is an
island perhaps. The symmetrical pile of sand on the right is said to symbolize Mount Fuji.
|The sand garden has become a popular feature here. When we
arrived the staff was raking the sand to make the patterns for the day.
|A Japanese pond and garden sits across from the pavilion
|Piles of Japanese coins have been thrown into a small wishing pond
|A short climb brings you to an overview of Kyoto
and a view down onto the temple structures
|Ginkakuji seems to embody the Zen ideal of quiet beauty and calm.
Come in the early morning when solitude and peace are more likely.
|Ginkakuji was originally built in the 1480's to serve as a place
of rest and solitude for the Shogun -- and what a beautiful spot it is
|We loved the green moss under the trees, raked to
perfection by the staff so hardly a leaf lay atop the moss
|From Ginkakuji we walked for about 2 km (1.25 mi) along the Philosopher’s Path, a
pleasant stroll following an old canal lined with cherry trees and Japanese maples
|The double sets of paving stones over relatively flat terrain
make for an easy walk, and we loved every minute of it
|We took our time, enjoying the quietness, the local shops, the occasional smell of baked goods coming from behind closed doors,
the sound of running water, the views of koi, and most of all the beautiful overarching trees that make this canal walk special
|The grounds are extensive, as is the temple complex itself. We climbed
a series of curving stone stairs past endless Japanese maples.
|We walked shoeless over the wooden floors of the temple complex, following a well-laid-out route. No photos are allowed inside, but the highlight is a
statue of Buddha called the “Turning-Back Amida.” The legend says the statue came to life and said to the chief priest, “Eikan! Follow me!” The Amida
seems to be looking behind him and beckoning, as if he doesn’t want to leave anyone behind. The "Bamboo Tiger" screen paintings are also memorable.
|The stone stairs lead to a pagoda offering fine views of Kyoto
|We can only imagine how amazing this place must be in autumn
when all the maples are ablaze. Even in green mode they’re lovely.
|Elegant stone monuments add to the sense of
harmony and balance here between man and nature
|At the Japanese pond, we were surprised to see
what appeared to be maples already turned red
|.Not sure how the master gardeners at Eikando managed to get red trees in
the spring, but it certainly made for some lovely garden and pagoda views.
|EIKANDO (ZENRINJI) TEMPLE
|At the far end of the Philosopher's Walk is Eikando Temple, also known as Zenrinji.
Listed as the #2 Kyoto attraction on TripAdvisor, it deserves its high ranking.