Friday, June 4, 2010

The Ins and Outs of Tenryuji Temple

When we headed over to Tenryuji temple I was expecting another tour consisting of the inner part of some super beautiful temple and an explanation of the temples history. This was not the case however as we only took a tour of the gardens, which while quite exquisite, and I was a little saddened that we wouldn’t get to see more of the temple. Though would not have been surprised if the gardens were the most impressive part of the temple. We weren’t allowed to spend to long on the grounds as we had to head off for Tokyo at around 2:00pm, but what I did get to see was absolutely beautiful.

Like Ryoanji this temple is known for it’s garden, which is one of the oldest in the world. The main difference between the Tenryuji temple and the Ryoanji temple is while the Ryoanji temple focuses on its rock garden the Tenryuji temple focuses more on the garden as a whole instead of one specific site. The temple’s garden felt more like walking though a small park if only because of all the trees and greenery. And while the view was quite spectacular I didn’t get the chance to view the garden in its entirety due to lack of time. Of course the fact that my feet were still throbbing from our previous hikes around Kyoto didn’t help much in terms of getting around swiftly either.

Even though my time in the garden wasn’t quite what I would have liked it to be I still got a chance to witness first hand how the Japanese attempt to imitate nature. The garden as a whole definitely showcased a strong sense of shin-gyo. This is a Japanese aesthetic term used to describe where something lies between man and nature. Shin-gyo happens to be in the middle of the two but leaning slightly more towards man.

After the temple we walked through the bamboo forest, which was only about2 blocks long, and I found it quite disappointing. Personally I was expecting more of a forest and less of a smile climb up a hill and the large amounts of people crossing though didn’t help to create the atmosphere I was expecting either. The easiest way to describe it would be to say that the real forest doesn’t do the pictures justice.

But enjoy a quick sketch of the gardens at least:

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