Being located in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district and close to Gion, the Kennin-ji Temple is easily accessible if visiting Kyoto. Unfortunately, much of the temple was closed for renovation and refurbishment during my visit, thus I am able to present merely a glimpse of the temple’s range and splendour.
The temple is historically significant as not only one of the Kyoto Gozan (five most important Zen temples of Kyoto), but as Kyoto’s oldest Zen temple founded in 1202. The founding monk (Eisai) is credited with introducing Zen to Japan and is buried within the temple grounds.
Pic 1, somewhat playfully titled “Contemplation”, hints at the temple’s meditative qualities. I say playfully titled because the shot took me at least thirty minutes to capture due to other visitors wandering into and lingering within the frame. Perhaps next year I will start a “ban selfies” movement :). Sadly the light deteriorated over this period, but one must acknowledge that all visitors have equal rights no matter how frustrating it can be when all one wants is a fraction of a second of clear space. Okay, I finally have that off my chest.
The most dominant feature of the main hall is also the newest, namely the Twin Dragons (pics 1 to 4) that look down from above. The work was installed in 2002 to commemorate Kennin-ji’s 800-year anniversary after taking the artist almost two years to complete. Created offsite, the work’s scale is imposing and is equivalent to the size of 108 tatami mats.
Other fine examples of Japanese art may be seen in the study rooms (pics 8 to 11) where various themes and traditional stories are represented in visual form.
Finally, I would have liked to show images from across Kennin-ji’s gardens, but I had access only to Chouontei – the garden of the sound of the tide. As one can observe from pic 12, Chouontei is indeed a relaxing place to spend some quiet reflective time outdoors.
(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)