I’m not going to take a lot of time to post tonight. The weather finally broke here so instead of being 85 degrees with high humidity (and sweat running down the insides of your clothing), it was overcast, slightly rainy at times, and about 70 degrees. That was a nice change. Since I’m from Seattle originally, a little rain doesn’t bother me but the heat really does.
Yesterday, we visited the Kyoto Imperial Palace (which was a bit of a yawn) and Nijo Castle, which was much more interesting. Nijo Castle does not allow photos of the interior (a practice that seems to be common with cultural treasures in Japan) but it is full of beautiful rooms with painted panels that are hundreds of years old.
Following this, we took the trip out to see Nanzen-ji, which is one of the five great temples of Kyoto and an important one for Rinzai Zen. The temple there was beautiful and part of a larger complex. It had some very nice rooms and shrine areas (again, no pictures allowed) and some out “dry” Zen gardens.
Following this, on the suggestion of our guidebook, we made the climb into the wooded hills behind Nanzen-ji to Nanzen-ji Oku-no-in. This turned out to have a beautiful set of small shrines and a small, cultivated, waterfall, along with a shrine in a cave. All of this at the top of some steps cemented into the rocks and across a small bridge.
Today, we went to To-ji, one of the main Shingon temples in Kyoto. This temple was given over to Kobo Daishi by the emperor and became one of the core Shingon temples early on. It as a pagoda that is reputed to have been built by him as well.
It also has one of the most impressive statuary displays inside, including a beautiful statue of Mahavairocana supported by the twelve generals, one of Fudo Myoo and the other light kings, and a number of others. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures of these either. I did drop a hefty chunk of change picking up some images of Fudo Myoo and the Taizokai and Kongokai Mandalas that they had there (suitable for framing), along with a few odds and ends.
We closed the day with some shopping elsewhere and a visit to Heian-jingu, a national Shinto shrine that had some impressive buildings but felt a little underwhelming otherwise.
Here are links to some of my galleries of photos from the last two days: