Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




Fallen autumn leaves at Enkouji Temple in Kyoto


Kyoto and Nara

When I went to Osaka the other day, I stopped at Kyoto and visited a temple to see the remains of autumn foliage. The temple that I visited is Enkouji Temple located in Sakyo Ward. Shisendo and Manshuin Temple are also nearby. The foliage season has almost finished and there were not many tourists, so I could enjoy a Kyoto-like atmosphere on a fine winter’s day. (H.S)


The spacious garden was covered with fallen autumn leaves like a carpet.


The contrast between the green moss and the autumn leaves was brilliant.


Viewing the garden through a window of the exhibit room


Gorgeous sliding panel paintings in the main hall


There was a suikinkutsu (a device that generates a sound like harp with drops of water) and I heard the clean sound.


The Enkouji Temple is a Zen temple, so it has a zazen room and they have zazen session every Sunday morning. They teach beginners simply. (reservation required)


Cute stone statue with a red maple leave on its head


I was still able to enjoy the autumn leaves.

I went to Kohfukuji Temple to see the statue of Ashura (a national treasure)


Kyoto and Nara

On the second day in Nara, I visited the Kohfukuji Temple (a World Heritage Site). I have passed through its precincts before, but it was the first time that I took time to pray and to see there.


Of course, I wanted to see the Central Golden Hall, which was rebuilt for the first time in 300 years and opened last autumn. Nevertheless, now that I am in the Kohfukuji Temple, I cannot leave until I see the statue of Ashura.


The statue of Ashura in the Kohfukuji Temple is very famous for the realistic sad look on its face. "The Exhibition of the National Treasure Ashura" held in Tokyo and Fukuoka in 2009 attracted about 1.95 million people, and an Ashura boom arose in Japan. The number of visitors was far more than the exhibition of Vermeer, ancient Egypt and Da Vinci. Also, I have heard that there is a fan club of the statue of Ashura.


The statue of Ashura is exhibited in the Kohfukuji National Treasure Hall, which was renovated recently. The inside was modern atmosphere, simple and sophisticated such as a picture of Buddha was used for a pictogram.


The statue of Ashura was exhibited with other Buddha statutes and not in a separate room. As I came to the front of the Ashura and faced the handsome features, I couldn't believe that it was made in Nara Period (the 8th century) and didn't look old at all. I wondered what the characteristic face with a frown showed. Maybe it did suffering, frustration and sadness. The site that Ashura fought with Taishakuten was called "Shuraba" in Japanese, which means a dreadful scene.


The statue of Ashura is a dry-lacquered one and its weight is only 15 kilograms, so they could take it out every time the temple was struck by repeated fires. That is why the statue is still remains. At any rate, it's amazing that in the Kohfukuji Temple, there are 18 Buddha statues out of 136 ones designated as national treasures in Japan.


It is said that the Kohfukuji Temple was a huge one that there were 10,000 priests at its peak. Since its foundation, the Central Golden Hall was burnt down seven times and the eighth rebuilding was completed last October. At the ceremony to celebrate the completion, the chief priest read in the announcement as follows.


The golden hall of the Heisei era.
We pledge to keep it long with the heaven, the earth and the years.


Although it sounded a quiet poem, what I felt was a solemn vow for the future and passion. (H.S)


The signboard in front of the National Treasure Hall


The reconstructed Central Golden Hall
It is about the same size as Daigokuden of Heijo-kyu Palace.


Looking up at the Central Golden Hall


The Five-Storied Pagoda and the Eastern Golden Hall viewed from the square in front of the Central Golden Hall (Both are national treasures)


Goshuin (ink writing and stamp that are given at a shrine or a temple) of the Kohfukuji Temple
You can choose one among five designs.


Japanese deers in Nara Park on their break
Originally the Nara Park was the precincts of the Kohfukuji Temple. It recalls the vastness of the past.


The video is from Kyodo News YouTube channel.
The Central Golden Hall of the Kohfukuji Temple was rebuilt (2'02")

A national treasure "Yohen Tenmoku tea bowl" | Nara National Museum


Kyoto and Nara

I went to Nara City last weekend. At that time, the Nara National Museum was holding a special exhibition that the national treasure "Yohen Tenmoku tea bowl" has been displayed to the public, so I visited the museum for the first time to see the tea bowl.


The Yohen Tenmoku tea bowls are said to have been made in the Southern Sung period (the 12th to 13th century) in China, only three have been passed down in Japan, and all of the three tea bowls are designated as national treasures. This year, the three Yohen Tenmoku tea bowls were respectively exhibited in Seikado Bunko Art Museum in Tokyo, Miho Museum in Shiga Prefecture and the Nara National Museum almost at the same time. The large and small lazuline spots appeared on the tea bowls called Yohen give off a radiance like stars in the universe. The reason why these spots appear on them has not been completely explained yet and it is said that it's impossible to replicate it.


I could enter the museum without waiting but when I entered into the exhibition room, I saw a long line to see the tea bowl that is displayed in a separate booth that the lights were dimmed. So, I saw other exhibits first and got in the line. And then I had a long wait for seeing the tea bowl. And at last when I saw the tea bowl, it caught my breath at the brilliance like jewelry. It can be seen from all directions, so the lazuline spots look different depending on from where you are viewing. I was able to enjoy the beauty of the Yohen Tenmoku tea bowl that looked as if there was the galaxy in the tea bowl and I wanted to continuously watch it forever.


At the special exhibition, other nine national treasures and fifty three important cultural properties were also exhibited from Fujita Museum, which were simply overwhelming. (H.S)


The Yohen Tenmoku tea bowl viewed from above (Photo is from the web site of the Fujita Museum)


Corner for taking photos in the museum


In the courtyard of the museum, there is a tea house and you can walk across there.


I also saw Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall on the museum's property. (The museum entrance fee covers the hall) This is the west side of the hall. (Photo is from the museum's website) In the hall, over hundred Buddhist sculptures are exhibited, which is the must-see hall for those who love ones.


After long viewing, I had cool Kuzukiri (translucent sliced arrowroot) at Kurokawa Honke in Yumekaze Hiroba in front of Todaiji Temple, which was so delicious!

Try your fortune at Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto


Kyoto and Nara

I visited the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto the other day. Although it was after the New Year holidays, the shrine was busy with visitors, mainly foreign tourists.


Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is famous as the god of prosperous business and abundant harvests. Also, the shrine is believed to grant easy delivery, recovery from disease and academic achievements.


One of my purposes in visiting the shrine was to try my fortune at "Omokaru-ishi Stone" in the precinct. The "Omokaru-ishi Stone" is located in the back of the thousand toriis. It is said that when you lifted the stone, if you felt lighter than you expected, your wish would come true. But if you felt heavier than you expected, it would be difficult to comes true.


There was a line in front of the stone. Looking at them, a woman tried to lift the stone, but she couldn't do at all. So I was afraid that the stone was so heavy.


Finally, my turn came, I made a wish and lifted the stone. Actually, it was lighter than I expected, so I was simply happy to think that I will have a good year.


If you go to Kyoto, why don't you try your fortune at the "Omokaru-ishi Stone" at the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine?(H.S)


The entrance gate is the right in front of JR Inari Station.


Many visitors in front of Romon gate


How to use washing water


A cool fox with a big key in its mouth


Popular photo spot: one thousand toriis


From the opposite direction


The "Omokaru-ishi Stone"

Shinsen-en Temple: The oldest historic site in the ancient capital of Japan in Kyoto


Kyoto and Nara

The other day, I went to Kyoto again. I didn't have much time to do sightseeing but I was able to visit only the Shinsen-en Temple.


The Shinsen-en Temple is close to Nijo-jo Castle. I didn't know about the history of the temple, but it was a garden for the emperor, which was created in the year 794.


Also, it is a popular photo spot now, so people came one after another and they were taking photos. It seems that their "Goshuin" (stamps given at shrines or temples) is popular and there were several people lining up to get it.


I recognized the depth of Kyoto that such a temple that you can walk in off the street and not so large has a long history. (H.S)


It is believed that your wish will be fulfilled if you cross the bridge.


Graceful houseboat


Viewing the Heian hall from the bridge


Former emperors enjoyed boating on this quiet pond.


In the precinct, there is a shrine that it is said it protects visitors.


The actors of a Japanese film visited here and prayed for its hit on the bridge.
The Shinsen-en Temple is known as the birthplace of cherry-blossom viewing.
Also, it is said to be the birthplace of Gion Festival.


There are several options for "Goshuin". I chose this one "Shizuka Gozen", who was the lifelong lover of Yoshitsune (a military commander).