Myoshin-ji Temple

(妙心寺)
#myoshinji #zen #taizoin #kanomotonobu

Myoshin-ji Temple complex is one of the largest temple complexes of Rinzai Zen Buddhist sect in Japan.
Just like other main Zen temples in Kyoto, Myoshin-ji Temple also fulfills the Chinese temple plan standard. The temple compound also opens with Sanmon Gate (三門, the Main Gate)-the most important gate of a Japanese Buddhist temple-followed by Butsuden (仏殿)-the main hall of Zen temples-and finally by Hatto (法堂)-the Lecture Hall where the main teaching practices take place.


At some places, and Myoshin-ji temple is actually one of them, you can enter the halls and during the special occasions even the gate. You can always enjoy many artistic details inside as well as outside of the buildings if you watch carefully enough. The mastery of depiction is fascinating reflection of the period and style. Dragons in many variations are probably the most numerous representatives of all portrayed mythological creatures. These basically kind and helpful water deities, as they are perceived in Japan, are almost everywhere. The Lecture Hall of Myoshin-ji temple is no exception because you can find a real masterpiece of dragon painting on its ceiling.


Onigawara (鬼瓦)

Other nice details to look for easily are roof tiles` ornamentations in many shapes. The original usage was to protect an object from the evil forces but in the course of time it became more and more a decoration to distinguish one building from another, visually and socially. The temple complex like Myoshin-ji is an ideal place to enjoy such an abundant diversification.
It is really interesting to check all those countless roofs. You can always find some new symbol or detail that you missed before.



Taizo-in Sub-temple (退蔵院)

Taizo-in sub-temple is the most highly regarded among the all other sub-temples of Myoshin-ji.
During his stay in the temple, the unmatched painter Kano Motonobu(狩野元信) designed its garden. It is one of the most famous gardens of Myoshin-ji temple. The composition of garden comes from his painting skills that gave the garden a different tone than the ordinary trend in those days.


He used very high trees in combination with the bamboo components and rocks of various shapes and sizes. In contrast to solely rock and sand garden style spreading throughout the Zen temples, he decided to create a real water pond with a waterfall, using a lot of greenery and other objects connected to water. In that manner he wanted to present much more natural and realistic scenery. In that sense the landscape he created is supposed to reflect the refinement and seclusion of life in Zen temple.


The azalea bushes added to the garden later are making the landscape abundantly colorful and thoroughly scented while in full bloom during May. What an unusual method to give an ordinarily restrained Zen garden such a splendorous attire.



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