Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Temples of Kyoto

Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan for 1000 years. Just imagine the timelessness of that for a moment. One thousand years of being the political, economic and cultural center of one of the world's greatest and longest-lasting civilizations. This millennium of history has left Kyoto with spots of grandeur, beauty and gravity that I don't know if I can say I've ever experienced before.

I was lucky enough to see three beautiful sites in historic Kyoto.

The first was Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. Kinkaku-ji sits on a tranquil lake surrounded by colorful blossoms and perfectly-coiffured trees. I imagine this is what my estate would look like if I were a wealthy daimyo in medieval Japan. I also imagine everyone's grandma has this scene on a 1000 piece puzzle.





And we ran into our cousin Greg and his family! They just happened to be vacationing in Japan when our family was!


Ok, back to our regular programming. Our second visit was to Ryoan-ji, the Temple of the Dragon at Peace. after a beautiful stroll through a serene garden, we entered the temple, whose inner courtyard contained one of the best examples of dry landscape (kare-sansui) in the world. We sat and contemplated.




Our third and final stop had us hike up a steep market street filled with Chinese tourists wearing traditional kimonos (apparently it's a gimmicky tourist thing one can pay for). The hike was worth it because at the top of the hill was the impressive Kiyomizu-dera, ordered built by the third Tokugawa shogun.






Being in Japan during the spring is breathtaking.