Monday, July 18, 2011

Green gardens of the Tenryu-ji Temple

I woke up to the sound of the falling rain this morning.  Due to the approaching typhoon,  it will be raining and cool for a couple of days.  After having survived sizzling heat, this is a relief, however, we need to be cautious as the typhoon is forecasted to be very strong and large. 

Today's post is about what I liked about Tenryu-ji Temple, Kyoto, when I visited at the end of June during the rainy season. 

ground of Tenryu-ji near the bamboo grove

Tenryu-ji Temple was established by Ashikaga Takauji in 1339 as one of the head temples of the Rinzai Zen School.  It is one of Kyoto’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Walking on a lovely path cutting through an awesome bamboo grove, which is behind the temple, I entered the temple.  Green color was beautiful enriched by the rainfall while air was stifling due to high humidity.

Is it a universal custom to throw coins into the fountain?

Roofed corridor connecting the buildings
Strolling around the gardens is always soothing experience even when it is sweltering. They includes every feature of Japanese landscape garden: paths of various types leading to views, a brook, ponds with carps, waterfront plants, and stones, bridges, lanterns, trellises, shakkei (borrowed scenery),  seasonal flowers, exotic trees, etc.. 

I imagined colored leaves of the mountains and their reflection on the pond in autumn.
(seen from 大方丈, Daihojyo)

seen through the picture window of 小方丈, Shohojyo

曹源池庭園 (Sogen-chi Pond Garden), created by Muso Soseki, is the original garden of the ancient Tenryu-ji and is well known as a borrowed landscape garden incorporating  Mt. Arashi. Mt. Atago, Mt. Ogura, and Mt. Kame in the backdrop.  It is also the oldest 池泉回遊式庭園, pond strolling garden, in Japan.  

Japanese water garden is full of asymmetries and curves.  The pond is  shaped like the Chinese character 心, "kokoro" in Japanese, which means enlightened Heart to Zen.  "Kokoro" in Zen is not merely the state of consciousness, but is the essential self hood of man.

"Ryumon no taki" in the center

The two-tiered composition of standing boulders represents “Ryumon no taki”  which reminds people of the cascade where a carp successfully swimming up transform into a "ryu" (dragon) in the ancient Chinese legend. 

Too slanting!  The tree looked like a resting "ryu" to my eyes. 

Ryu, a guardian beast of Buddhism, is painted on the paper sliding doors.  Since they are protected by the glass covers, the garden and people are reflected.  Sitting quietly, I felt like that the wind aroused by the dragon blowing to the garden.  There is another ryu in Hatto (雲龍図, 法堂, No Photography) in the lecture hall of the temple. Tenryu-ji (天龍寺) literally means "Heaven-Ryu Temple".

Lovely stone statues are welcoming or seeing off visitors along the path to the entrance.

Tenryuji is located in Sagano district, western outskirts of Kyoto.  The area is famous for its cozy local atmosphere and beautiful scenery of mountains and riverside.  My sister living in Kyoto says she never gets tired of visiting this place throughout the year.  We didn't explore the area extensively due to other schedule.  I'd like to return in other seasons.

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  1. really beautiful and peaceful (even if it was hot and rainy). i loved the 'dragon' tree. so beautiful.

  2. Hello:
    Oh, how we have enjoyed the tour of these most beautiful gardens. The acres of green are so very restful and serene. And, so many shades of green and different textures of trees, mosses and flowering plants. But, for us, the triumph is the Bamboo grove. Majestic in scale and creating a glorious verdant tunnel, we can only imagine that the experience of walking through it is absolutely enchanting.

    We continue to be enthralled by glimpses of your country, all of which is new to us and which you present in such a beautiful way. We do so hope that the typhoon will not cause damage for you. Take care!

  3. Hi,Stardust!
    京都のTenryu-ji って始めて知りました。
    sliding doors に描かれた竜の絵は迫力があって全く素晴らしいですね。10番目の写真、私も竜が横たわっているように見えますよ。素晴らしいポスト有難うございます!いつか行って見たいお寺です。

  4. This place is so quiet and and the same time fascinating! I do love everything there!
    Thanks for such a beautiful post:)

  5. Oh, Kyoto! Such a dream place. I really want to see it, more than anything else in Japan I think. For some reason I like bamboo groves, I can't explain the feeling, I'm just very attracted to them.

    In Russia and Finland people throw coins to fountains as well :)

    I watched a nice movie 'Hatsuyuki no koi', and it looks like there was the same bamboo grove as on your photograph. Do you by any chance know if it's the same one?

    Thank you for a beautiful journey ^^

  6. If I remember correctly, I've never been to Tenryuji temple before. Your post induced me to visit it by all means.
    The color of the brook or pond are indescribably beautiful.
    Like redrose said, the dragon on the paper sliding door looks overwhelmingly powerful.

    By the way, do you think the figures of frogs have been sitting since it was built? I've heard the ornaments of frogs have been treasured because of kind of pan;
    frog is kaeru in Japanese, that means "return", so people would pray that someone might return home safe and sound, or fortune might return.

    Anyway, thank you for a great post to share, stardust.

  7. Bamboo in Sagano is beautiful,isn't it? I like it,too.
    Dragon on the sliding door is nice. Glass cover takes good effect.
    This dragon reminds me of a engraving dragon that I made for New Year's card long ago. I carved it,copying this dragon.

  8. Wind and dragon legends mixed with the enchantment of nature, (particularly your first photo of the bamboo forest floor and the glass-covered doors), create an artistic environment for all the senses. I can imagine the sounds that are also there to evoke an awe-inspiring awakening. Thanks as always for sharing your wonderful world, stardust. :)

  9. This garden is a joy and a rest-haven rolled into one. The colour green is so soothing and the bamboo groves speak both of graceful strength and spiritual uplifting.
    I could gladly visit this garden on a daily basis.

  10. To Ekaterina

    The bamboo grove on my picture is exactly the same one in the movie “Hatsuyuki no koi.” The stage of the story is Sagano and Arashiyama area around the Tenryu-ji.

  11. Oh, so nice! Thank you for information.

  12. To Cosmos,

    The fountain didn’t look old, neither did the figures of frogs. Only the Sogen-chi Pond has survived in its original form as far as I know.

  13. Lovely and interesting post. Yes, I think it is "universal" to throw coins in a fountain or pool and make a wish. I know I have done it in many different countries. The bamboo groves are "awesome"--such an interesting plant. Heat, now rain--I guess we need to be prepared for whatever nature sends us. Have a lovely week. Mickie :)

  14. Beautiful and serene!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  15. Marvelous post for the day and your photos are superb as always. And such a lovely, peaceful place! Love the bamboo groves! They are indeed awesome! Thanks for sharing the beauty! Enjoy your week!


  16. What a beautiful garden. Thanks for sharing this :) LG Tina

  17. What a lovely visit - so many shades of green in landscape and water. I like the idea of "asymmetries and curves." I believe such a landscape mimics nature and pleases the eye. My own gardens here in the mountains are asymmetrical and wild. I love their exuberance. That bamboo path is very special as is the lush moss shown in the first photo.

  18. you provide the most magical pictures of such enchanting places!!

  19. one more time....simply gorgeous!!!

  20. Although I don't know well about the legend,Rinzai school seems to be deeply connected with Ryu.
    I saw a big dragon painted on the ceiling in another Rinzai temple.
    I love the bamboo grove with the neat fence, koshiba-gaki, in Sagano.

  21. the bamboo grove is so beautiful, i could imagine myself sitting here for hours. the pond and garden are delightful. you've captured the stillness of this place.

  22. Beautiful garden. I enjoyed reading your story and the photos. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Oh goodness - I could stay here forever. It's so very very beautiful!

  24. That's true.The shape of the tree looks like a "ryu".
    Ryu must be a guardian god.:)

  25. How beautiful! All of your pictures are wonderful as postcards (even better ;))

  26. Hello Stardust!
    Lovely evokes peaceful feelings for me! I like very much the dragon reflection and the little statues,they look serene and cute at the same time.
    It's interesting to see that warlords in Europe and Japan were doing the same around the same time,fighting and building fortifications,temples and churches.However the religious buildings seem to have lasted longer.

    Have a lovely day,

  27. My goodness, there is so much to see here! I hope the typhoon does not do a lot of damage!

    Love that bamboo grove. We have bamboo in Florida but I've not seen anything like this.

    You do excellent work and your photographs are a pleasure to look at!

  28. WOW! that's one beautiful place!!! I love your photos.

    ~ Jo's Precious Thoughts ~

  29. Your post on Kyoto's Tenryu-ji Temple is superb, Yoko. So blessed you are to be able to view such beauty. Standing there by the Sogen-chi Pond Garden must make one feel as if they were part of a magnificent painting...a masterpiece! I would love to walk down the curvy bamboo lined path, with the restrained grasses growing along the edges...a beautiful calming experience.

    Loved your post. I have read about Typhoon Ma-on.

  30. Hi Stardust ... re your comment on Paree: If you send me a check, I'll gladly pick up that ring for you the next time I'm in Paris! OK? :-))

  31. The deep green seems to make my heart fresh.
    The shoji of the dragon is the best work of art.

    Your ancient city introduction has high dignity.

    Have a good weekend.
    Thank you.

  32. What a beautiful and peaceful place.
    I hope the typhoon will not be too strong. We are experiencing some hot weather (around 35C) but it will not last too long.

  33. Wow!! I am already dreaming of being there... These are the places I love, a kind of energy flows through these places... Quiet, Contemplative, Scenic-Beyond-Reality...
    Thanks for taking me into a place unseen, unheard...
    Have a fabulous weekend:)

  34. It is a pleasure for the eyes and soul of Japanese gardens.

    The bamboo forest is impressive, it moves me. You know? A wise teacher of mine said that one must be as flexible as bamboo does not break with the winds (as metaphor seems close to Zen-) more than what goes on you learn that everything passes.

    Nice to see you.


  35. Very lovely photos of your gardens. Japanese gardens are great works of art. There is still admired since my early age. I like nature. This adjusted in accordance with human sensibilities are really a gem. Nice blog!

  36. It amazes me that bamboo grows so tall there. Beautiful gardens and wonderful descriptions. AND I really like the reflections in the window!

  37. You always visit such beautiful places. Spectacular photos, I really love the bambbo path. Thanks for sharing.

  38. This is wonderful. The path through the bamboo grove looks mystical, and I love the contrast between the moss and the bamboo stems in your other picture.

    So many cultures throw coins into fountains. I've always heard that it is to show respect to the river god. It certainly happens in European countries, and I suppose that is a pre-Christian river god.

    I never cease to be impressed by the subtlety and artistry of Japanese gardens. Thanks for this beautiful post.

  39. I meant to say that I hope the typhoon is not a bad one.

  40. Hi Stardust,
    We Indians too throw coins but in the holy rivers!! It is said to bring good luck...
    Have a fabulous day :)

  41. Great place. I wonder why people do that (I mean the coins)... I don't like it because the coins change colour and goes all yucky...but I guess it has a significance in some cultures.

    Cheers, Evelyn

  42. Wonderful shots you offered us of this great garden!!!It makes me wish to get on a train and go see for myself! is hot and humid and I know that Kyoto is even more because of its "bucket" like shape...


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