Arashiyama is a neighborhood on the western edge of Kyoto with many temples and related tourist destinations. It appeared to be a popular destination for Japanese in town to see the fall color. As I walked the skinny streets through farms and modest residential neighborhoods on a day that threatened, but failed to deliver rain, I passed thousands of visitors pointing cameras and exchanging “wows” at every red, pink, orange, and yellow tree we passed. It was as if the whole town was on holiday, and for the most part, it was. I rode a Kyoto City Bus to the end of the line and began my tour at Daikaku-ji Temple.
Daikaku-ji began life as the detached palace of Emperor Saga, but was converted to a temple in 876. Elevated walkways connected a number of buildings in the complex and offered a great view of the gardens.
Elevated walkway and garden
Flower display at main garden
Awesome fall color greeted me at Seiryo-ji, a 1000-plus year-old temple a short walk from Daikaku-ji. Also known as Saga Shakado, the temple grounds feature a beautiful pond with a picturesque island.
Colorful maples and moss
A sheltered walkway led visitors through the garden about 4 meters from the ground. The views were super.
The view from the garden’s covered walkway
Island with lantern and pagoda
In search of the next temple, I walked a ways up a shop-lined street and found a large gate, Toriimoto.
Asking several passersby where I could find Adashino Nenbutsu-ji and receiving several answers, I walked for some time up and down this street, often consulting my map, until I happened upon a staircase that led to the temple.
Adashino Nenbutsu-ji sits in a area where bodies were often discarded. Today the temple, established in 811, contains over 8,000 statues that memorialize the souls of the dead. On occasion the statues are lit with candles – an event I’d like to see some day.
Statues memorialize the souls of the dead
Pagoda at the center of Adashino Nenbutsu-ji
Bamboo forest at the edge of the temple grounds
1,000s of statues
Moss and lichen make for unmistakable age
Colorful maples brighten the scene
The path leading to and from the temple
Moss garden at Gio-ji
Maples and moss
The sky above Gio-ji
Danrin-ji is Japan’s first Zen temple. It was founded in the ninth century in Sagano. In the 14th century, construction of Tenryu-ji began on the grounds and at some point the temple moved to its current location.
Pagoda at Danrin-ji
Stone lantern near Danrin-ji
Nison-in, formally known as Ogurayama Nison-in Kedai-ji, is famous for its statues of Shaka and Amida. Once designated as one of the “Four Auspicious Temples” in Kyoto, it served as the location where candidate High Priests received purple robes, symbolic of the highest rank in Buddhism (Temple brochure).
The entrance to the temple
More fall color
The view through the main gate
Tomorrow: Temple Week, Day 7 – Jojakko-ji and Tenryu-ji
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