Frozen moments from the infinity that is time

Tenryu-ji (Kyoto)


Tenryu-ji Temple located in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district is one of those places for which adjectives were invented.  However, perhaps pointing out that Tenryu-ji is the first ranked of the Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto will stand as sufficient testimony to its significance through the ages.

Magnificent buildings within magnificent gardens within a delightful town make a visit to Tenryu-ji an experience to savour and remember.  My first visit was on a holiday weekend during autumn and although the crowds made it impossible to take internal shots, the communal enjoyment and celebration of the autumn colours further enhanced the experience.  An earlier post (Autumn in Japan) included several shots from Tenryu-ji and further examples of the autumn hues are shown here via the photographs of the Sogen-chi Pond.  When pondering the scene, bear in mind that by retaining the same structure since their design in the fourteenth century by Muso Soseki, these gardens have truly passed the test of time.

A return visit some weeks later on a quieter day provided an opportunity to leisurely enjoy the buildings and the interior spaces.  The use of dark, heavy timbers creates atmosphere and the joy of walking on timbers smoothed over the years by the steps of countless visitors is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Sitting on the Tatami floors in the Hojo (main hall) looking over Sogen-chi Pond to the landscape beyond is when one really appreciates this place.  The views are serene and I distinctly remember reflecting on how difficult a monk’s life would have been centuries ago, yet how apt a reward to be able to recharge one’s spirits by gazing over a view such as that still seen today.  From that moment I have thought of Tenryu-ji’s underlying character as regenerative.

A walk through the temple buildings reveals links to the past.  One such link is the image of Daruma (pic 9), the Indian Buddhist monk considered to be the founder of Zen Buddhism.  Similarly, pic 10 shows a shrine to Emperor Go-Daigo who lived and studied in a villa on the site of the present temple.  Following his death, Ashikaga Takauji (the first shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate) ordered the villa’s conversion to a Zen temple.

Of course, there is always place for fun amidst history and a popular attraction is a little ornamental pond where visitors delight in trying to land coins onto the frog statues.

(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)



Author: johnliddlephotography

Photography reflects how I see the world around me. I respond to images that interest me, which can be anything ... people, places, colour, texture ... anything at all. By sharing my photos through this blog I know that viewers will see based on their life experiences. That is the wonder of photography ... one image ... many interpretations.

10 thoughts on “Tenryu-ji (Kyoto)

  1. Ah, beautiful stuff of dreams♥
    Love your description of gorgeous Kyoto as the “place for which adjectives were invented”… Absolutely true!
    Thank you for sharing the magic and do take good care, too 🙂

  2. The autumn colors are absolutely gorgeous! The temple is indeed one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in Japan!
    Great pics!

  3. Hi John,
    It sure sounds magical – I can only imagine how blissful it must have been 🙂

    Love your pictures here, especially the inviting paths – and is that a little brook within, too? – through the mossy gardens where one could walk for ages on end and the spacious cleanliness of the room in picture 11. Surely, one could just drop by one of the tables to write from one’s heart for hours.

    Stuff of dreams, totally. Thank you for sharing this magic and stay awesome, too.

  4. Hi B,
    Yes, blissful would be a good description and it would be nice to walk through the gardens. However, visitors must stay within the paths.

  5. Ah, I see.
    Well, knowing that these enchanting green spaces are still maintained well for generations to come feels good, too. 🙂
    Do take good care.

  6. Hi John,
    I have nominated you and your blog for a Minus The Box Inspire to Aspire award.

    Here are the links to the post.

    Thank you for sharing your light. Do take care and stay awesome, too♥

  7. Pingback: Myoshin-ji Temple Complex (Kyoto) | johnliddlephotography

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