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Kinkaku-ji and Daitoku-ji

The first couple of days we visited Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji, the two delightful lakeside temples, the former famous for its reflections in the water, and the latter for its painted panels and sand garden, spurning Ryano-ji the austere temple with a bare rock garden which exemplifies how the affinity of Zen to nature can end in a complete contradiction where the dead contrivance of raked sand has replaced living nature, despite the more sensitive mossy gardens of the huge temple complex of Daitoku-ji right over the wall from Tani House.

Entrance buildings to Kinkaku-ji

Kinkakuji burned to the ground by an obsessed monk in the 1960s.

Kinkaku-ji gardens

At the exit was a little shrine posting a bunch of good luck charms.

A fortune 'dust' can and fortune letter boxes.

A jinja just south of Kinkaku-ji

Daitoku-ji is a very different kettle of fish. With its boundary wall running right alongside Tani House, it is a very large complex of Rinzai Zen temples and meditative lodging houses set in a forested park area. It is not a place of touristic clamour but for study and retreat.

In the evening at Tani House I heard the elusive clicking of sound sticks in the night that happens here mid-evening and mysteriously heralds the fire guards who wander through the alleys calling "Hi no jo-in" - beware of smoldering fires - harking back to the time when Japan used open fires for cooking and the wood and paper houses caught fire so often that, in Tokyo, the nightly blazes were a regular entertainment called the 'blossoms of Edo'. After running hundreds of metres down several streets clean into the precincts of Daitoku-ji temple, I finally came upon them singing their ancient protection song, something that is common sense in a compound full of pine trees in the centre of the city.

Hear the sound of the fire guardians. The low clicking is an artifact the chant and the two echoing cracks of the striking wood blocks are the experience.

Daitoku-ji contains 22 sub-temples, including Sangen-in, Höshun-in and Daisen-in pictured below.

The Daitoku-ji postman

The friendly V-sign outside Daitoku-ji

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