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The Silver Pavilion at Ginkakuji Temple was completed in the late 15th century as a retirement villa. A peripheral building on the grounds of the Ginkakuji Temple complex, founded in the 15th century. The magnificent White Heron Castle sits on a promontory overlooking Himeji City.
The Lord's House Garden at the Kokoen Gardens complex is right down the street from Himeji Castle. A Kongo Rikishi gate guardian at Horyuji Temple in Nara, which was sculpted in the 8th century. Detail of 1,300 year old gargoyles and roof tiles that ward off evil at Horyuji Temple in Nara, the ancient capital.
The Kokoen Gardens, which include this Tea House Garden, in Himeji City are a restoration of 16th century Edo period gardens that were formerly at this location. The Lord's House Garden of Kokoen is built on the site where a Lord and his many samurai retainers once lived in Himeji City. The Kotoin Temple was founded in 1603 and is a sub temple of Daitokuji. It is a Zen temple that showcases plants to great success rather than rocks and gravel.
At Kotoin Zen Temple in northern Kyoto, a woman contemplates the 400 year old moss and Maple Tree garden Kotoin Temple at Daitokuji is known for its tea houses and the moss and specimen gardens that surround them. A sub temple courtyard of one of 47 sub temples of Myoshinji Temple in north Kyoto. It is the largest Zen temple complex  in Japan and dates to 1342.
A quite small green and dry rock and gravel garden at a sub temple within the confines of the expansive Myoshinji Temple complex. A structure at Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto, which was an imperial villa in 1264 and later converted to a Zen temple in 1291. The great Sanmon main gate at the Nanzenji Zen Temple in eastern Kyoto is the largest gate in Japan and was completed in 1628.
Ryogenin Temple moss garden dates to around 1500. It is part of the Daitokuji Temple complex, which was founded in 1319. Another small Zen garden at Ryogenin Temple located within the Daitokuji Temple complex in northwest Kyoto. The Silver Pavilion at Ginkakuji Temple was constructed in the late 15th century as a retirement villa, but was never faced with silver leaf as originally planned.
Another view of the small Zen rock, gravel, and greenery garden at Myoshinji Temple that was shown earlier on this page. This Zen rock and gravel garden at Ryogenin Temple is reputed to be the smallest of its kind in Japan, and dates to the 16th century. The west Kongo Rikishi gate guardian at Horyuji Temple in Nara was sculpted in the 8th century and has stood guard over the temple for 1,300 years.
The back side of Kyoto Station, which was opened in 1997. It serves as the main hub for all of Kyoto's rail service, including Bullet Trains. The inner spaces at Ryogenin Temple incorporate all of the Zen influences: wood, sand, rocks, water, plants, and solemnity. The interior of a 400 year old tea ceremony room at Zuihoin, a Daitokuji Temple sub temple.
Daitokuji Temple interior room shows woven tatami floor mats, sliding shoji screens, and rice paper windows with bamboo lattice. A Mother Deity at Daitokuji Temple. Behind her in the background is a cemetery with ancient and modern graves. At Daitokuji Temple's cemetery, these stones mark the graves of noblemen, their family, and samurai retainers.
At Daitokuji Temple, this pine tree's branches were allowed to extend like tentacles, which the master arborists supported with bamboo poles. Another view of the tentacled Daitokuji Temple pine tree, shown on the left. Once you have seen the temples of Kyoto there is no doubt that they have a long history as master gardeners. The entrance to Kotoin Temple, which is a sub temple of Daitokuji Zen Temple complex. Kotoin is known for tea houses, moss, and Maple Trees.
Throughout the Kotoin Temple complex are small, beautiful side gardens that are designed for viewing from wood corridors and verandas. Delicate Japanese Maple Trees and ground moss line this stone walkway that leads to the 500 year old Kotoin Zen Temple. Detail of a tiled gate roof at Daitokuji Temple that shows the ogre gargoyle face and what appears to be a marine animal.
This is the eight sided pavilion of Yakushiji Temple, which was founded in Nara in 718. Detail of the tile roof and ornament atop the Yakushiji Temple eight sided pavilion. Tile roof detail at Daigoji Temple, which was begun in 874 and houses the oldest structures in Kyoto.
A reclining Buddhist Bodhisattva is the centerpiece of this altar at Daigoji Temple in southeast Kyoto. A splendid garden is framed by open shoji screen doors at Kotoin Temple in northwest Kyoto. The 500 year old Ryogenin Zen Temple moss, stone, and gravel garden. Zen appealed to the samurai class.
Ryogenin Zen Temple rock and gravel garden. It is not easy to rake perfect geometric designs in gravel, but the monks seem to have no problem. A detail of what is reputed to be the smallest Zen garden in Japan at Ryogenin Temple in Kyoto. Access bridge to Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay. KIX was built on a manmade island. The bridge carries trains, vehicles, and services.
Plastic display outside a Kyoto restaurant of Beef Stew cooked inside a bun, mayonnaise over salad, and french fries. A $25 parfait surrounded by lesser options. Restaurants display most of what they offer out front as plastic models for passers by to peruse. At dusk, a view of the boarding platforms and rail lines behind Kyoto Station.
Beneath the main support beam of a small gate at the 1,000 year old Daigoji Temple, this gargoyle supports the roof and wards off evil. I snatched these crayfish sushi off the conveyor belt at the Sushi restaurant. They look strange, but they were delicious. A multi story gate at Daitokuji Zen Temple complex, which was founded in 1319 and still a working monastery today.

From street level in Himeji City, the 500 year old White Heron Castle is an imposing site to approaching visitors. Himeji Castle is all about warfare. Windows were slits designed to shoot through and the protruding horizontal openings allowed boiling oil or objects to be dropped on attackers. Another view of the White Heron Castle showing the immense foundation wall and other various defensive structures. It is a miracle that this castle escaped relatively unscathed during feudal times.

The Lord's House Garden in Himeji City is a 1992 reproduction of a 16th century garden formerly at this location. A tiered waterfall flows into the Lord's House Garden pond, shown on the left. A small waterfall is a central feature of the meticulously landscaped Lord's House Garden pond.

One of many gates at Myoshinji Temple, a large complex founded in 1337 in Kyoto and home to Zen Buddhism. A small Zen rock and gravel garden at the entrance to Taizoin Temple, which is one of the oldest at Myoshinji founded in 1404. Specialty beef is on sale at Kyoto Station in Isetan Department store for more than $40 per pound.

At Isetan Department Store in Kyoto, steak cutlets sell for nearly $50 per pound. The roasts for around $14 per 3.5 ounces. A public western style toilet that plugs into the wall. They are usually sterile as Japanese seem to prefer traditional toilets, perhaps because they are cleaner. At the Ako City hot spring resort, futon beds are laid out for sleeping. Beside the pillows are paper origami cranes and a note.

Ako City resort traditional bath. Bathers sit on stool, wash, and rinse off. Runoff flows into dark square floor drain. Tub is for clean soaking only. The entrance to Ako City castle ruins, which date to 1661 and was the home base of the 47 samurai who committed suicide after defending the honor of their Lord. Ako City memorial to the 47 samurai who defended the honor of their Lord and then was ordered by the Shogun to commit mass suicide, which they subsequently did around 1702.

Diorama of 500 year old Ginkakuji Temple that shows the Silver Pavilion, the moonlight dome, the gravel berm, the pond, and mountainous surroundings. Geometric stone walk leads to the Priest's Quarters just inside the entrance to Ginkakuji Zen Temple in eastern Kyoto. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. A specimen pine tree is the focal point of a small Zen garden within the grounds of Ginkakuji Temple. This temple is the ultimate expression of landscaping art.

View of the Sea of Silver Sand, the moonlight dome, and the garden that ascends up the mountain at Ginkakuji Temple in eastern Kyoto. The Silver Pavilion and moon dome are obscured in this view of the lush garden of Ginkakuji Temple. The Brocade Mirror Pond showing the Bridge of the Immortal Pillar Stone that crosses over to either Crane or Turtle Island at Ginkakuji Temple.

Up the mountain slope from Ginkakuji Temple, a dense canopy of trees shades the moss covered ground. The main Silver Pavilion at Ginkakuji Temple, which was completed in 1480. Diorama of the Nanzenji Zen Temple complex, which was founded in eastern Kyoto in 1293.

A Nanzenji Temple prayer building. Visitors bowed and silently chanted before a Buddhist altar within. Buddhist altar within the building, shown at left. Visitors pray and toss coins into a wooden box. The Lake Biwa Aqueduct traverses the Nanzenji Temple grounds. It still carrys Kyoto's water and dates to 1890.

The great Nanzenji Temple Sanmon Gate was completed in 1628 and is one of the largest gates in Japan. Closeup of the Kongo Rikishi head that was sculpted in 711 at Horyuji Temple in Nara, the ancient capital. Closeup of the other Kongo Rikishi, which literally means 'powerful gate guardian', at Horyuji Temple.

The Horyuji Temple pagoda is one of the oldest wood buildings in the world at 1,300 years. It is 104 feet tall, and the finial spire weighs three tons. On the ground level of the Horyuji Pagoda at each of four openings there are plaster carvings and figurines that depict Buddhist stories. A view into the inner sanctum of the Horyuji Temple Pagoda that shows the 1,300 year old wood and construction technique.

The Inner Gate and courtyard corridor at Horyuji Temple were constructed around 680. When you stand in the Horyuji Temple courtyard, you are surrounded entirely by the oldest wood structures in the world. Corridor and courtyard out building that surrounds Horyuji Temple's inner grounds. This construction also dates to the late 8th century. The Horyuji Temple Golden Hall is the oldest of the temple's buildings, completed in 680. Horyuji is a repository of 2,300 Buddhist and Japanese cultural treasures.

Detail of roof tiles and gargoyles at Horyuji Temple. Roof tiles are not only durable, but they are heavy too. At the base of Himeji Castle's foundation, a display of historic Japanese family crests. My wife's mother found both sides of their family represented. International Departure Gates at Kansai International Airport, a manmade island in Osaka Bay and one of the world's engineering wonders.

Rear of the new Kyoto Station and one of many rail lines of the west train yard behind the station, which services local, regional, and national destinations. The Kondo main hall at Yakushiji Temple in Nara Japan, which was founded shortly after Horyuji Temple came into being. The Buddhist iconography building in Joyo City south of Kyoto. Atop the roofs and affixed to its sides were many Buddhist icons.

Geisha Models for sale for around $100 at Kyoto's Daimaru Department Store, a very upscale establishment. At the Ako City hot spring resort, I was served butterflied fish, shaved daikon radish, and egg for breakfast. Sashimi raw fish entree. Surprisingly, when raw fish is prepared by the master chefs of Japan it does not taste fishy at all.

Jizo divinities ease the suffering and shorten the sentence of those serving time in hell. They are also guardians of unborn, aborted, miscarried, and stillborn babies. Detail of Horyuji Temple gate gargoyle. It appears to be part lion, part dog, and part dragon. Modern style Japanese house located in Joyo City. Typical two story structure with not much yard surrounding it.

Neighborhood street in Joyo City. Generally streets are narrow, houses small and multi story, and with minimal yard space. Near the front entrance of Taizoin Temple, a small black gravel Zen rock garden, which I found unusual. An old well located directly behind the main tower at Himeji Castle, which could possibly have been the main well because of its close proximity.


A golden Buddhist icon sits atop a building in Joyo City. Japanese are predominantly Buddhist, but they also worship Shinto and Christianity. The Daigoji Temple pagoda was built in 951 and it the oldest structure in Kyoto. Heavy tiles and extended overhanging roofs make pagodas extremely heavy structures.


Buddhist garden icon at Daitokuji Temple in northwest Kyoto.

Japan 7

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Copyright 2003 by Daniel L. Hagerman. All rights reserved.
Revised: 25 Jan 2009 14:01:54 -0500 .