Tenryu-ji Temple, Bamboo and buggered cameras
Kyoto Travel Blog› entry 14 of 15 › view all entries
I'll confess at the start of this that I got a little snap happy in Arishiyama. Everything was beautiful and for the non-cameraphobic everything was a photo opportunity waiting to happen.
Climbing from the rocking Hozu-Gawa boat we were greeted with the imposing sight of Mt. Arishiyama and the surrounding mountains. Thanking all my personal gods that I didn't have to climb any of them we strolled away from the river and into the oppressive heat of the city. We ended up in the bamboo forest, a place of astonishing size an beauty. My experience of bamboo is entirely of the garden variety - that and I know pandas enjoy chowing down on it, and thus I was totally unprepared for the fact that this stuff is massive.
Huge stalks towered above our heads, giving welcome shade and dropping the temperature by a degree or so.
Nearby lies the Tenryu-ji temple. Originally built in 1339, though the present buildings date from around 1900, tenryu means heavenly dragon and was built to appease the unhappy spirit of a past emperor. All I can say is I wish people would appease me like this if I was similarly minty - it's again stunning. Sadly, as with Todaiji in Nara, fire has ravished the temple several times. However, the rebuilt temple is still full of charm and character.
We entered from the north gate, located in the bamboo grove. Immediately we were surrounded by the fourteenth century Zen Sogen garden, resplendent with pools containing massive koi, the odd large frog sculpture and serene Buddha; the paths twist and turn pleasantly offering unrivalled views of the mountains and bamboo forest. The roof of the temple peeps across from the foliage, and it's entirely convincing to believe that you have turned back time to a simpler era. Words, at least not mine, cannot do this place justice. Hopefully some of the many snaps can.
Reaching the temple itself you can enter the main hall and the Shoin Drawing Room (having exchanged your own footwear for a pair of indescribably tiny Japanese slippers).
We returned to the drawing room and sat quietly contemplating our surroundings. A pang of regret tugged at my heart that soon we'd have to leave and our journey was nearly over. Sitting in Shoin, looking across a koi pool up at the mountains, time seemed to slow. And then stop. Eventually it was time to move on.