Friday, August 14, 2015

Japan: Temples & Shrines in Kyoto

At the end of June we headed to Osaka, Japan to visit my brother and his family. IT.WAS.SO.MUCH.FUN! I seriously had the best time, I loved Japan! Ok, now that I have that excitement out of the way I'll get on with telling you all about our trip. 

We spent our first full day in Kyoto. My brother, J, Baby O and I headed to Kyoto first since Cousin S had swim lessons. We visited Ryoan-ji and Kinkaku-ji before meeting up with my SIL and Cousin S for lunch.

Ryoan-ji is a Zen Temple. The Ryoan-ji garden is one of the best surviving examples of kare-sansui (dry landscape). This style of garden features larger rocks among smooth pebbles that are raked into linear patterns. Ryoan-ji is one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The garden is a 248 square meter rectangle, that is thought to have been built in the late 15th century. The garden is meant to be viewed from a seated position on the veranda of monastery residence. There are fifteen stones all carefully placed so that only fourteen are visible at one time. It is said that 'only through enlightenment would one be able to view the fifteenth boulder'.
Kinkaku-ji is Zen Temple whose two top floors are covered in gold leaf. The temple was originally a retirement villa of shogun (a hereditary commander-in-chief in feudal Japan) Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Per Yoshimitsu's will his villa became a Zen temple after his death in 1408. Over the years this structure burned many times. Most recently, in 1950, a fanatic monk set it on fire. The current building as built in 1955.

Before lunch we saw the orange guy in the picture below. I think my SIL said that he is the mascot for a near by city. Baby O was very interested in him.
After lunch we went to Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirit Inari. Inari is believed to be the protector of rice and grain crops, there are approximately 40,000 Inari shrines in japan. The Fushimi-Inari Shrine in Kyoto has a 4km long corridor of gates or torii that make their way up the Inari Mountain. I loved taking pictures of the torii. I mean LOVED it! I took way too many, below are just a few so you aren't bored to tears!
The fox is Inari's messenger
The back of each torii had the name of the family or business who made a donation
And one last picture from this day of Baby O staying up late with Cousin S.


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