It's New Year's eve and there are lots of visitors in Kyoto today. We are off to explore Western Kyoto but instead of walking we are in the car. Our first stop today is Daitoku-ji. There are over 23 temples over a very large complex but only about 4 are open to the public. In these temples are some very good examples of the dry gardens for which Japanese Zen Buddhism is renowned. The first one was Daisen-in, a sub temple which contains 2 gardens. The most famous one is in a very small narrow strip with a bell shaped window. Carefully selected rocks, pebbles and plants are used to conjure up jagged mountains, a stream then falls into a gently flowing river, a boat shaped rock 'floats' seawards, giving the allusion to the passage of life. 'Following' the river it goes into a 2nd and larger garden which holds 2 cones sitting in a sea of raked gravel.. It is very peaceful and I loved it.
Onto Ryoanji Temple. It houses a very simple rock garden of white sand and 15 rocks. At anyone time you can only see 14.. why? It was laid out at the end of the 15th century. They leave it up to you to decide what the garden signifies. I had a thought at the time but I lost it as it was interupted by the commentary being piped around you. Again I would get here early to beat the crowds if you want to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of such a beautiful place.
We set off again.. our next stop was the Golden Pavillion... it was not to be. At their busiest time of year it was closed, well shrouded in covers as they were doing conservation work on it. We managed a walk round the gardens which were very lovely, probably the loveliest ones and the most peaceful. Well for me anyway.
The highlight of my day was yet to come with a visit to Sanju-Sangen-Do or its official name of Rengeo-in temple. And it houses 1001 Kannon statues and 1 gigantic seated statue placed in the centre of them all. What a climax to another day's sightseeing. It was breath taking and this wasn't due to the temperature of the hall when visiting, which was flipping cold...
New year's eve..we joined the locals bonging their bell to ring in the new year. We were the only westerners there. What a privilege..