Sand and gravel gardens are an intrinsic feature of many Zen temples in Japan, the most famous being the stone and gravel garden at Ryoanji in western Kyoto. Raking the gravel into a distinctive pattern is part of the training of young novices, who seek perfection of form through the practiced and studied concentration of undertaking a singular and repetitive act.
Honen-in Temple, not far from Ginkakuji Temple in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, has a beautiful raised gravel garden as you enter through the main gate.
The constant formation and destruction of these sand mandalas recalls the Tibetan tradition which symbolizes the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of all material life - anicca.
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From Shijo Kawaramachi, bus #32. From Kyoto Station, bus #5 or Raku Bus #100. Get off at Ginkakuji-mae. A five-minute walk to your right along Philosopher's Walk, then turn left and walk uphill over the stream. Honen-in is on your left, as you turn right just over the stream at the sign to the temple.
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Thursday, April 08, 2010