Friday, February 3, 2017

Tofuku-ji, Kyoto, Kyoto

Immediately after leaving Fushimi Inari Taisha, we headed over to the second destination of the day: Tofuku-ji, the fourth of Kyoto's Five Great Zen Temples within the system of Kyoto Gozan. If that sounds familiar, that's because not too long ago I posted about Kenjo-ji of Kamakura Gozan

You see, the Kamakura shogunate made Kamakura the imperial capital of Japan before the Ashikaga shogunate did Kyoto (the latter remained so for the next 1,000+ years!), and back then Buddhism was intricately entwined with state affairs no differently than Christianity was in Europe. 

Left, left, left right left ^.^

Here's the south-facing sanmon (三門, main gate) and its lotus pond, apparently the oldest in Japan and a national treasure, last rebuilt in 1425 after three destructive fires. However, this is no longer the entrance of the temple complex and visitors now enter from the west or northwest corner.

I think this is the kyozo (経蔵, scripture library).

I regret not walk through these torii gates. Apparently there's a pavilion back there.

This street led to a smaller temple, but it looked private so we didn't go in.

This is the hondo (本堂, main hall), though in this case it's called the butsuden (仏殿, Buddha hall). Too bad it was closed to the public when we were there, so hubby sat down on its steps for a quick rest ^.^ 

I know the sanmon above is the main gate but it's no longer the main entrance for the public. Instead, we entered through this west entrance here, a covered wooden bridge called Gaun-kyo (臥雲橋). 

It was pretty interesting to see a huge temple nestled right in between neighborhoods with alleys like this one we walked by.

Anyway, from Gaun-kyo you get a peek of the famous Tsuten-kyo (通天橋) overlooking the maple trees. The fall peak season here at Tofuku-ji is the fall, when all the maple trees turn colors. Apparently it gets so crowded they had to ban photography during this time of the year in order to move folks along.

This complex of temples (and most others also) was rather spacious, an oasis of emptiness in a densely populated city, quite a breath of fresh air. Nowhere else will you see a vast space like this in Japan aside from large temple and/or shrine complexes. And I'm saying that almost indignantly. See neighborhood alley photo above.

There's a small fee of 400yen/person come into the hojo (方丈, head monk's living quarter) to view its four zen gardens. Shoes off, of course.

The southern garden.

The five moss-covered "sacred mountains" on the far end of the same garden.

The eastern garden and more landscapes.

The northern garden.

Peeking over at Tsuten-kyo from the hojo.

The western garden.

Not sure what we're looking at here... ^.^

Having circled all around the hojo, we were finally back to the southern garden where we sat down for a scenic rest.

Behind the hallway where we sat was what looked like a prayer hall with a giant rin gong.

Next up: the other half of Tofuku-ji beyond the Tsuten-kyo.

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