Kyoto Diary : Seven
The most famous of all Japanese gardens - Ryoan-ji, created in 1499. And you have to get there within the first hour of opening if you want to be able to sit and contemplate its mystery in relative peace - before the coach parties arrive!
It really does have star quality - I was sitting quietly, just enjoying the sun and watching the way the light changed the whole garden and one stone in particular - and I went off into one of those moments that I had with the stone Buddha in the Miho Museum. The focus deepened and I swear the stone moved! It was most enjoyable anyway.
But this next garden up the road was in a temple that had been the retirement place for a female member of the Royal family. It felt much softer than Ryoan-ji, more gentle.
The attention to detail is amazing, and this did have Imperial connections, so it was beautiful. This is just the corner of a wooden railing, looking down onto the stone floor below on the edge of the garden.
Very satisfying, this combination of tiled wall, gravel and shrubs. So harmonious to my eyes.
This was a path in a less visited temple with several ponds and bright maples. These path borders are made from bamboo that is heated and bent to shape. So useful, bamboo.
This is our group carrying out the regular duty of taking off the shoes when entering a temple. Always good to have mules or velcro and very clean socks! Daiho-in is a sub temple of the large Myoshin-ji temple complex - almost as big as a small town! This was a new one for me - hurrah.
The entry fee included green tea, taken overlooking the garden - very pleasant. A Japanese group followed us in and some ladies were amazed to see me sitting properly on my knees (they didnt realise that I was being very careful!)
I took a photo of this water basin with its little maple leaf. On the way out, I saw Keiko - the group's lovely Japanese "person on the ground" and invaluable friend and helper - picking up a maple leaf. "Did you see the lovely leaf on the water basin?" She had put it there! A one woman mission to place them for our delight! So now, whenever we see one enhancing an object, we say that Keiko has been here before us!
This really is a country that you cant get to grips with. Who else, outside a lifestyle shop selling classy kitchen ware, china and glass would you get wellies with " side strap" next to pottery plaques with a quotation from the gnostic gospel of Thomas "Raise the stone and thou shalt fnd me, cleave the wood and there am I" (click to enlarge). Thats the last thing I expected to see! Very Zen though....