When you pass through the outer gate to enter the grounds of Kyoto's Tojiin Temple compound, you first come upon a large graveyard. The two most striking features of the graveyard are a statue of Buddha and another of Shozo Makino, the latter one of the early legends of Japanese cinema. Makino was a director at a local stage theater troupe but made the transition to film in 1907, and is still revered in Japanese film circles.
A bit farther in is the temple itself. Located at the foot of Mount Kinugasa in the northwest of Kyoto, Tojiin Temple was the ancestral temple of the Ashikaga shoguns. It was founded in 1338 by Lord Takauji Ashikaga, who had the renowned landscape designer Soseki Muso create the gardens and ponds on the grounds.
On a perfect clear winter morning, I had the temple almost to myself. A wizened priest took my 500-yen coin, handed me the ticket and pamphlet, and then with a wry smile said in English, "Please, right."
As directed, you head right. At that point, a large framed image of a monk (see above) and a piped in tour guide (click here to listen) confront you. The recorded lecture, which is a condensed history of the temple, follows you whether you like it or not; there are speakers throughout the buildings.
The garden at Tojiin is divided into an eastern part ("Shinji-chi") and western ("Fuyo-cho," or Lotus Pond). At the northern end is a tea house with a thatched roof, which was built by the shogun Yoshimasa. The garden contains many camellias, Japanese maples, and other species to mark the seasons.
Tel: (075) 461-5786
Entrance until 4:30 pm
Just south of Ritsumeikan University. The closest stop is on the Keifuku Railways Tojiin Station. From there walk north five minutes. Or, take the #50 bus to Ritsumeikan, walk through the campus to the south end. About 10 minutes.
Japan Temple Kyoto Buddhism Ritsumeikan University Temples in Iran
Tuesday, January 30, 2007