…Better late than never? Well, since I’m returning to Kyōto on Friday I thought I’d FINALLY post the videos I took in May. *Click the YouTube button in the lower, right-hand corner of each video to open in YouTube and view in HD.
Taking advantage of Kyōto’s bus system, we got the ¥500 all-day pass and went to Kinkakuji, Gingakuji, Ryoanji, Shimogamo Jinja, and a tea ceremony in Gion.
Kinkakuji,”The Golden Pavilion,” is actually a nickname. Formally, it’s called Rokuonji and was built in 1220 as a villa. “Yoshimitsu, the 3rd Shōgun of Ashikaga, abdicated the throne in 1394” to pursue a religious life and transformed the villa into a temple which he covered in gold (temple pamphlet). The gold covered was restored (much more was added) in 1987, and Kinkakuji became a World Heritage Site in 1994.
Another World Heritage Site, Ginkakuji (“Silver Pavilion”) was built as a Zen temple in 1482 by Ashikaga Woshimasa. He modeled the structure off his grandfather’s golden edifice, but lacked the funds to complete the project, and so the silver coating was omitted. Again, like Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji’s previous formal name is Higashiyama Jishōji.
Ryoanji is most famous for its zen rock garden. Measuring 25 meters across and 10 meters wide, it differs “completely… from the gorgeous gardens of court nobles… in the Middle Ages” (temple pamphlet). “It is up to each visitor to find out for himself what this unique garden signifies. The longer you gaze at it, the more varied your imagination becomes. This rock garden surrounded by low earthen walls may be thought of as the quintessence of Zen art… [It] is said to be created at the end of [the] Muromachi Period (around 1500), by a highly respected Zen monk, Tokuho Zenketsu,” the pamphlet continues.
We went to Shimogamo Jinja to see an archery contest in Heian-period dress (794–1185). Click the photo below to go to Mike’s blog, full of beautiful photos and some funny videos.
The streets were actually so crowded going to Gion that we hopped off and walked to our tea ceremony at a traditional tea house named En. The hour-long detailed explanation in English is given by a very nice Japanese woman. She doesn’t have a website, but call her at 080-3782-2706. She requests a reservation and holds ceremonies at 3, 4, 5, and 6 pm. I’m not sure what days she’s open, though. This place was recommended by the lovely Hana Hostel, Kyoto.
Click photos to enlarge.