Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The garden of Toji-in Temple

the garden, Toji-in Temple, Kyoto

I love the Japanese garden. I like how it looks, but I love the idea and symbolism behind it. The more I get to know the details, more I like it.

One of my favourite gardens is Toji-in(等持院) garden near Kinkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji. Those two temples are always busy, by comparison Toji-in is very quiet and calm and the least known to visitors.

Toji-in used to have a much bigger precinct, but most of the land has been sold; it’s difficult to imagine how glorious the old days must have been now. In the past Mt.Kinugasa was incorporated as part of it’s totality as “borrowed scenery”(借景), sadly a university expanded its premises between the two destroying the effect.

Look on the bright side.

This garden was designed for viewing different scenes while walking along the meandering path encompassing the ponds, it is in the Strolling garden style(回遊式庭園). The layout is carefully arranged and makes us feel it’s much more spacious than it actually is.

Inside the tea house.
The platform was where the shogun was seated.

The temple was founded by Ashikaga Takauji, the first shogun of Muromachi shogunate, and grandfather of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu who founded Kinkaku-ji temple, and Ashikaga Yoshimasa who founded Ginkaku-ji was his great great grandson.

Takauji asked Muso Soseki, a prominent monk and garden designer for guidance. It later became the Ashikaga dynasty’s funeral temple and all their shogun were buried here and their statues are kept at Reiho-den.

The first time I went there, Reiho-den was very dark and surrounded by 15 Ashikaga shoguns’ statues with their crystal eyes was kind of spooky and I hurried out genuinely afraid. Nowadays the statues are back-lit and are behind glass for protection, there’s even an alarm in place now. I guess so many statues and ornaments have been stolen from temples and shrines recently that sadly it’s a necessary precaution.

Azaleas have just finished.
The garden would be pretty with azalea in spring
and Japanese Maples in autumn.

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