Daitoku-ji Temple

#daitokuji #imamiyajinja #zen #daisenin #karesansui #imamiyajinja #aburimochi

Daitoku-ji Temple was founded in 1315 on Ryuho-zan Mountain (龍宝山), the small mountain in the north of Kyoto City that used to be part of Five Mountain System of sacred Buddhist Mountains. It is a member of Rinzai school Zen Buddhism sect, one of the three Zen Buddhism sects in Japan. Well-preserved classical Zen monastic layout with variety of Zen gardens and sub-temples makes it one of the best places to practice Zen.

Daisen-in Sub-temple (大仙院)

The Zen garden of Daisen-in Temple is perfect example of kare-sansui (枯山水) garden, the Japanese rock garden. It clearly shows us the shift from using water to using rocks in the gardens instead. Its boom dates to the later Muromachi period (1336?1573) of Japanese history. One of the reasons of this shift was simply the fact that Kyoto did not have enough natural sources of water. Therefore the river stream in the gardens started to be more and more represented by the use of sand, as it is in the case of Daisen-in Temple´s garden, where only sand and rocks are used. The garden of Daisen-in Temple and Ryoan-ji(龍安寺) Temple´s garden are considered to be the most famous gardens of kare-sansui style.

It was the first time for me to be inside the garden and I must admit that the feeling I experienced was really something new and strong. Watching all those remarkably shaped stones with unusual texture made me feel like floating into the different world. The various rocks and boulders are specially arranged to symbolize mountains and islands with bridges between them, all surrounded by the sand representing water. In the compact view, you can feel the greatness of depth that will not let you leave untouched. The scenery of garden is just something you would love to watch forever and the endless presence of what you have experienced will stay inside of you wherever you go.

The other distinctive places I would suggest you to visit at this “temple village” are Koto-in Sub-temple(高桐院), Ryogen-in Sub-temple(龍源院) and Zuiho-in Sub-temple(瑞峯院).
It is without any doubt that Daitoku-ji Temple is the real pearl of Zen culture in Japan that can offer you a lot of unforgettable experiences at one place, at one time. So do not hesitate to come and see for yourselves.

Imamiya-jinja Shrine (今宮神社)

After visiting Daitoku-ji Temple it would be a good idea to drop-in Imamiya-jinja Shrine which is right around the corner. This patron of good health with its history going back to the 10th century can offer you the perfect comprehension of architectural difference between shrine and temple structures as well as of their purposes.

Imamiya-jinja Shrine has many sub-shrines and plenty of interesting features. One of them is a magical stone called in Japanese Ahokashi-san (奇石). You should tap the stone three times, lift it up a bit and put down again. Make your wish and rub the stone three times. Then lift it up again and if the stone becomes lither than before, your wish will come true. I think it worked for me.

Another thing that is inseparable from Imamiya-jinja Shrine is Aburi-mochi (あぶり餅), the Roasted Rice Cakes that are sold right next to the shrine. There are two rival shops, one of them boasts of tradition as long as 1000 years.

It was a very nice ending of the day.