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Posts tagged garden


ashland high school graduation japanese garden wa torii

2016 Ashland High School graduation in Lithia Park

Ryoanji photomerge


Rock garden

tochoji rock garden fukuoka japan

石庭 – 東長寺


I’m on my way to Hawaii today. Pics from the Big Island coming soon.

Ninnaji’s South Garden (仁和寺の南庭) panorama

Ninnaji's South Garden 仁和寺の南庭 photomerge panorama ninnaji south garden dantei kyoto

Photomerge of Ninna-ji’s South Garden
Kyoto, Japan

When I lived in Japan in the 1980s I didn’t get the chance to travel outside of the Tokyo and Yamanashi area. I purchased a set of postcards at the time and looked at them often. Probably half or more were from Kyoto. The only two scenes in these twenty or so postcards that I actually saw in person in the 1980s were Mt. Fuji and a Shinkansen.

Fast forward 25 years, and I was riding a bike through Kyoto stopping at any place that looked interesting without any prior research. I ended up at the entrance gate for Ninnaji and payed 500 yen. After walking around the grounds I felt a bit ripped off. Just before leaving I saw someone hand their admission ticket to a man and enter a building so I followed suit. Moments later I realized that my 500 yen was well spent. This was one of the scenes from one of those postcards I had looked at so fondly decades before! Not only that, but the place was mostly empty. Occasionally another person would wander in and gasp at the beauty of the South Garden (dantei) before heading back out, but for the most part this was my garden to meditate in by myself.

Fudoin (不動院) – temple lodging (shukubo or 宿坊) on Koyasan (高野山)

photomerge panorama fudoin dinner garden koyasan

Fudoin Japanese garden (日本庭園)

The reviews and recommendations of the temples you can lodge in on Mount Koya are vague, to say the least. I looked in guidebooks and all over the internet and couldn’t find many details like you can when choosing to stay in a hotel, ryokan, or minshuku in most parts of Japan. While my review of Fudoin isn’t going to tell you which temple on Koyasan offers the best value or which temple to avoid, I can tell you about Fudoin.

The first thing to note is that if you plan to go to Koyasan (and you should), don’t make it a day trip. The best part (similar to Shirakawago) is the overnight stay. To make your overnight stay in a Buddhist temple as relaxing as possible, don’t bring all of your luggage with you. The people on the trains, cable car, and buses with a suitcase and large backpack are not happy campers. Instead, stay in the same place in Osaka or Kyoto the night before you go to Koyasan as you do on your night after visiting Koyasan. Most places will allow you to leave your luggage there if you are coming back after being away for just one night. Then you only have to bring a small backpack or camera bag for your one night on Koyasan.

There is no place to stay on Koyasan that isn’t a temple. There are many temples to choose from, but the thing that struck me when I was there is how similar they all appear to be. I somewhat randomly decided on Fudoin. The price was a bit higher than average, but there really aren’t any cheap or inexpensive places. Everything about Fudoin exceeded my expectations. The food was outstanding. The view from my room (pics here) was incredible. The morning prayers were wonderful. There really was nothing to complain about, and I felt the price was very worth every last yen.

Today’s photo, by the way, is a 180 degree panorama from the room where I ate my vegetarian monks’ cuisine (shojin ryori or 精進料理). I assumed that the meal would be served in my room or in a hall with everyone else. Instead, I was ushered into a room overlooking this lovely Japanese garden and ate by myself as the sky darkened.