Thursday, 4 June 2009

Anraku-ji Temple

Anraku-ji Temple, off Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

There’s another pretty temple near by Honen-in(法然院). The temple is only open for several days a year. It has a similar humble hut style gate. Whereas the Honen-in gate is overshadowed with trees and rather dark, this gate has a brighter atmosphere.

There’re many temples named Anraku-ji(安楽寺) throughout Japan. Briefly “anraku(安楽)” means rest or comfort and many of them are named after the word. This temple is named after a monk Anraku(安楽) who was a disciple of Honen (法然) and was executed along with Juren(住連). –Actually the official name of this temple is Juren-san Anraku-ji (住連山安楽寺), having both monks names.

The temple was built to ease their souls near where they had preached. In their days Pure Land Buddhism was new and considered a cult and suppressed by established Buddhism, especially Enryaku-ji(延暦寺). They were charged of seduction and mesmerism by two court ladies, who later became nuns, and executed by the order of the Emperor.

A monk, probably in charge of the temple, explained the history. He answered all my questions with diligence and humbleness.

The temple has a small but pretty front garden with lots of trimmed azalea bushes. It was the last day of the spring opening and the azaleas, though passed their best, still gave colour to the garden.

There’s another garden between the main hall(本堂) and study room(書院). It is a composition of big stones and trees, but the trees have outgrown the garden and the balance is lost.

Contrary, the study’s garden has been well looked after. The tiny garden with trimmed azalea bushes is facing the mountains and we can sit on an engawa(縁側) floor to enjoy the scene. It’s not a big garden but it gives the feeling of space due to its layout with bushes gradually stepped up hillside. The two stone lanterns, stepping stones and a little stone bridge add charm to the garden.


  1. I love how these Japanese temples blend so well with their natural surrounding! And those animal stone sculptures are wonderful, too. Thanks for this very interesting blog! :o)

  2. thoes sculptures are cute, aren't they? i love them!
    i'm happy to know someone is interested my photos. thanks :)