stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kyoto Diary :Four

This was a "free" day, which means no guided tour. So I decided to head out into the north westerly hills and visit an area which promised to be rich in autumn colour, with a deeply wooded river valley and several hillside temples. A bit of solitude and quiet walking I thought.

But while waiting at the bus stop for the half hourly bus, I realised that I would be lucky to find a seat. And I was at the terminus. Good job I didnt get on at my local stop. It is VERY popular with young and old alike!

Indeed it is a beautiful place, as the Japanese tourists know, butI only saw a couple of Western tourists all day.

It was a steep walk down to the river.

And up the other side, up the many pilgrim steps. But I had found a gentle and quiet road up that presumably the monastery vehicles use. This is the final flight to the main hall.

Jingo-ji must be quiet the rest of the year when there is no maple colour, and the sound of the temple bell was very tranquil. I could hear it where I found a quiet place for a picnic by climbing into the pine wood above the main hall, and felt refreshed by the clear air and its sound.

A favourite juxtaposition - temple roofs and maple leaves. Aaaaaaaahhhhh.

I dont know what this said but I admired it style. Again I bypassed the crowds on the steps and strolled back down to the valley bottom quietly. And then headed along to the other temple (via a hot chestnut stall, mmmmmm) which I ate as walked along the lane beside the river.

This was a quieter temple, and seemed to have more katsura style stone lanterns than I have ever seen in one place before. The lovely large leaf was not a random one, but had been placed there artfully by a film crew who were capturing the autumn colour! But nature really does well enough without gilding the lily (or leafing the lamp!)

Even the film crew couldn't improve this!

Those who know me well, will know of my love of bells - of all shapes and sizes - but especially large temple bells. What a beauty, even though I never heard it. Perhaps as well as I may not have been able to leave.

However, in this temple if you paid a coin or two, instead of having it sounded for you, this one was do-it-yourself (someone had left their bag of temple souvenirs behind) How I could I refuse?
It was incredible.

The inviter ( the stick thing - in my Zen tradition you dont "ring" the bell, but "invite" it to sound) felt right in my hand, and the sound lasted minutes. Aaaaaaaah. (I do a lot of contented sighing in Kyoto!)

In the evenings in autumn, various Kyoto temples are lit for night viewing. Ive seen some that are reminiscent of Disney world, very garish with loud music playing. But Shoren-in, is one of my favourite places as you can hit the very large hanging temple bell for a few yen (not at night though, shame!)

But this is very tastefully done, and the stroll around the garden and water was not overcrowded. Some people were given hanging paper lanterns to carry, which looked absolutely delightful and you could imagine being in a different era.

The interior was also open and I was able to photograph these delightful modern screen paintings, as my camera had become full when I was there in the past! Arent the lotuses wonderful? The really seem to be alive and vibrant. And the colours....aaaaahhhhh.

The bamboo forest that acts as a backdrop to the garden had been lit, and was glowing in a ghostly pale grey.

And every evening so far the full moon has shone. What bliss - warm air, full moon, softly lit temples and tranquil gardens. Aaaaah. (there I go again, sorry) Oyasumi nasai (good night)


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