Over the weekend, my family and I rode from our home in western Kyoto over to the Shisendo hermitage. On a warm spring day, we set off, passing Myoshinji and then coming up to the major east-west thoroughfare Imadegawa Dori (street). We rode past Kita no Tenmangu, through the Nishijin weaving district, past Doshisha University on our left and Gosho on our right, crossed the Kamo River, and then started the incline past Kyoto University. Just before the Silver Pavilion, we turned left onto Kita Shirakawa Dori. From there it is about one kilometer.
You turn up Manshuin Dori, and pedal up the hill. This is the Ichijo-ji area, which is at the foot of the mountains bordering the eastern edge of Kyoto City. It is an old and relatively unchanged area, if for no other reason that it is a bit out of the way. It still has a village feel to it though it is technically part of the city.
Shisendo itself is a hermitage that was established by Jozen Ishikawa, a scholar and soldier and landscape architect. Following his withdrawal from samurai service, in 1615, he devoted the rest of his life to studying Chinese classics. In 1641, when he was 59, he built what is now known as Shisendo.
You enter the grounds through a simple bamboo entrance, which takes you up a stone staircase that is surrounded by a bamboo grove. After slipping off your shoes and paying at the entrance, you enter the main hall. This overlooks a garden covered in white sand and azalea bushes. Below are wisteria, which were white and in full bloom, and a small pond with koi. The new leaves were nearly blindingly green.
Afterwards, we walked several minutes over to Enkoji Temple and, later, through the surrounding neighborhood. Enkoji Temple was originally built in Fushimi, in south Kyoto, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. It moved to its current location in 1667. The garden was more natural than Shisendo's, and the main hall of the temple featured spectacular screens and sliding doors.
The statuary at left is a dozing child buddha that is set in the lush grounds of the temple.
Drinking and Dining in Kyoto
Drinking and Dining in Osaka
Japan Kyoto geisha
Thursday, May 11, 2006