Climbing Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto)

Climbing Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto)

Yesterday morning, I completed the second non-solo ascent of my 100 Summits Project: Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Taisha) in Kyoto. The day before, I traveled from Tokyo to Kyoto via shinkansen (bullet train) with my mother, stepdad, and family friends Laurie and Kaitlyn Bolland (as well as my son) to begin several days of hiking and R&R in advance of our planned ascent of Mt. Fuji later this week. (While the weather may not cooperate on Fuji, we’re hoping the predicted storms pass by and we get the chance to climb.)

Read more

A Visit to Eikan-do, part 2: The Pagoda

A Visit to Eikan-do, part 2: The Pagoda

No visit to Kyoto’s Eikan-do would be complete without a visit to the hillside pagoda – though many visitors miss the amazing view because the path to the pagoda (and the fact that it’s open to the public) isn’t always obvious. The path lies past the dragon fountain, at the edge of the steep hillside incline at the back of the temple grounds.

Read more

A Visit to Eikan-do (Part 1)

A Visit to Eikan-do (Part 1)

Eikan-do Zenrin-ji sits on the southern end of the famed “Philosopher’s Path” that runs along a canal in Northeastern Kyoto. Founded during the mid-9th century, Zenrin-ji is the head temple of the Jodo-shu Seizan Zenrin-ji sect of Buddhism in Japan, and although it’s a popular tourist spot, it’s also very much a living, functioning Buddhist temple.

Read more

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.

Read more

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. 

Read more

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

Read more