(To start the visit to Kongobuji from the beginning, click here.)
After entering the main building of Kongobuji, visitors pass through the gold-doored ohiroma (sadly, no photos allowed) and along a hallway with wooden floors worn smooth by time and the passage of many feet.
Like many Japanese temples, Kongobuji features gardens in every outdoor space, no matter how small. This garden runs alongside the hallway in the previous photograph:
The temple’s indoor spaces are beautiful, and contain a wealth of history. Many treasures and artifacts are on display. Sadly, photos are not permitted inside, so our tour will have to jump forward to the far end of the building. There, we find the Banryutei Garden–Japan’s largest “dry landscape” garden.
The large stones are arranged to create the impression of a pair of dragons guarding the temple.
The stones for the garden were brought to Koya from Shikoku, Japan’s third major island (counting from north to south) and the birthplace of Kōbō Daishi, the priest who brought Shingon Buddhism to Japan from China during the 9th century.
After visiting the garden, visitors pass along a covered walkway to enjoy tea and sweets in the temple’s audience hall . . .
before continuing through the temple kitchen – with its massive, traditional stove.
If you visit Mount Kōya (and I hope you do!) I hope you also take the time to visit Kongobuji. The temple has visitors’ maps in English, and is accessible and understandable to visitors who don’t speak Japanese.
Have you been to Mount Koya? Did you stop at Kongobuji? And if you haven’t been, does it look like the kind of place you’d like to go?
2 thoughts on “A Visit to Kongobuji, Part 2: The Dragon Garden”
Hallo, Hallo Ms Spann!
🙂 I was just reading about how your going back to Mount Koya on the release day for your lovely new installment of the Hiro Hattori novels ( Trial on Mount Koya ) as you make your way along the 100 Summits! I love how you share your photographic journal with all of us – it makes Japan feel closer to home. I fell in love with Japan through my grandparents love of their culture, art and music – they collected art and they had a favourite musical artist, too. (the name eludes me)
When I was older, I corresponded with friends who lived in different regions of Japan – however, I feel closer to understanding Japan through your photographs. As I was wicked thrilled about the Nagano Games (Olympics) as it also brought a fresh perspective on the country. In recent years, as my friends lost touch or moved on without me, I have been enjoying reading your series and your photographic eye for giving all of us a chance to see the Japan you personally love to visit.
I was fascinated by the temple’s stove! 🙂 This looks like the kind of place you can unwind your mind and simply enjoy the ‘stillness’ of being present there. Serenity wouldn’t be elusive it would feel embraced. Many happy returns to you for being able to go back to a place you love! I eagerly await your journals as you embark on your 100 Summits! Many blessings on your travels!
Thank you so much Jorie! I love being able to share the photographic journey too. I love traveling through other people’s photographs to places I will never likely see, and I hope that my photos can take other people on journeys (and maybe inspire them to go to Japan too).
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