Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, Part 2

Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, Part 2

The Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji, ranks among Kyoto’s most popular attractions, though many visitors know little about the temple’s history or architecture. On Wednesday I blogged a little about the Golden Pavilion’s history (to read it, click here), so today I thought I’d share a little about the architectural details.

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Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji (Part 1)

Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji (Part 1)

Kinkakuji ranks high among Kyoto’s most popular tourist sites, and with good reason. Its famous golden pavilion, which stands on the edge of a peaceful lake, is a lovely and well-maintained example of Buddhist architecture.   But many visitors don’t realize that “kinkakuji” (temple of the golden pavilion) is not actually the temple’s real name.

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Remembering the Unborn: Kiyomizudera’s Mizuko-Kannon

Remembering the Unborn: Kiyomizudera’s Mizuko-Kannon

The Japanese term mizuko (literally, “water child”) refers to a deceased baby, infant, or fetus. This includes stillborn and miscarried children as well as those who died by abortion, and in some cases also applies to babies that die shortly after birth. A funerary rite, called mizuko kuyō, is often performed on behalf of these children, and Japan has many shrines honoring mizuko–mostly in combination with statues of Jizō, a kind incarnation of the Buddha who is considred the patron and protector of mizuko. 

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Walking The Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto

I’m traveling in Japan at the moment, researching my next two Hiro Hattori mystery novels and spending some time with my son, who just completed his degree (in Japanese language) at UC Davis. After spending two lovely days in the mountain resort of Hakone, we traveled by shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto for an overnight stay before heading into Wakayama Prefecture for a night on sacred Mount Koya. With only a single afternoon to spend in Kyoto, I opted for a walk along the famous Philosopher’s Path–a paved walkway that parallels a peaceful canal. The famous path lies in northeast Kyoto, and

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Kyoto’s Best Cream Puffs

While visiting the preserved historical streets of Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka in Kyoto’s Eastern Higashiyama ward, I noticed a line of Japanese people snaking out the entrance of a tiny shop. The line extended almost 30 feet into the street, which made me curious, so I headed over for a closer look. The sign outside the shop featured a rabbit and the words “Yatsuhashi Cream Puff” – and since I’m never one to pass up a pastry, especially when the evidence suggests it’s a good one, I joined the queue. Like many snack shop lines in Japan, this one moved quickly.

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The Best Tonkatsu in Kyoto

Japanese food is not all fish and saké. The food in Japan is diverse, vibrant, and almost always as fantastic to the eye as it is to the palate. When traveling in Japan, I try to eat at different places every day, to experience as much as possible. Although I often want to repeat a meal, I rarely do, because I want to sample as much as possible on every trip. However, on occasion I can’t resist a repeat meal … and Tonkatsu KYK (とんかつKYK京都ポルタ店) in the Porta underground dining area immediately adjacent to Kyoto Station was responsible not just one, but two of the best meals I’ve ever

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The Dry Waterfall at Kyoto’s Tenryu-ji

During my recent trip to Japan, I visited Tenryuji, a Zen temple and monastery in the mountains northwest of Kyoto. The temple is famous not only for the “heavenly dragon” (Tenryu) painted on the ceiling of its worship hall, but also for its lovely botanical gardens and Zen landscape. The primary garden at Tenryuji was designed by Muso Soseki (1275-1351, also called Muso Kokushi), a follower of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. His major contributions to Zen garden design and landscaping include the “dry waterfall”–a stone arrangement designed to mimic the appearance of water without the use of any actual water

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