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I’ve been wanting to go and see the famed momiji trees in this shrine at the earth fort called “Odoi”. And so when I saw the news that today was the peak time to see the momiji in Kitano Tenmangu, I immediately planned my visit. There was an entrance fee of 700 yen which included a tea and a snack at the end of the route.

It was my first time to see many momiji at its peak of kouyou so I was really awestruck at the colorful display of leaves. Everywhere you see was like a painting with hues of reds, oranges, yellows and some light greens! The shrine’s bright orange constructions even exudes a rather unique atmosphere. I also liked how you can view the leaves in the canopy and at the bottom part of the garden.

The tea was probably houji-cha while the sweet had a characteristic ginger taste.

Actually, the Kitano Tenmangu is more popular for its ume or plum blossoms but they’re not in season now. They will probably bloom by around early February. Interestingly, I’ve read from the shrine’s Facebook site that there were already some ume blossoming which is unusual. So I checked the ume trees after momiji viewing to see if it’s true.

So there were really some early bloomers… nice! But I will come back again for more.

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Jingo-ji or Jingo temple is one of the Buddhist temples that can be found in Mount Takao in Ukyo,ku, Kyoto. I went with my international friends here for momiji-gari or viewing the momiji but we were too late as almost all of the leaves have already fallen. But there were still a few trees at its peak and the mountain scenes were serene and breathtaking so I guess it wasn’t too bad.

The origin of Jingo-ji goes back to 824 AD and has gone through many disasters throughout the history (like fire). I will quote what was written in the pamphlet that was given to us during the visit:

Wake-no Kiyomaro, who was in charge of building the new capital at Heiankyo (now Kyoto), established Takaosan-ji Temple on this site at the end of the eight century. In 824, Takaosan-ji and Jingan-ji Temples were combined as Jingo Kokuso Shingon-ji Temple.

Before the merger, Takaosan-ji Temple had played a key role in the Heian School of Buddhism, including visits, as guests of the Wake clan, by Tendai sect founder Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) and Kukai (Kobo Daishi). In 812, Kukai gave esoteric teachings of Takaosan-ji to Saicho and 190 others, laying the foundation for the establishment of the Shingon sect.

Kitano Tenmangu is a Shinto shrine located in Kamigyo-ku dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane. It was said that he was the first person in Japanese history to be enshrined as a deity. He is best known as the “god of academics” and so many students come here and pray for academic-related intentions, especially entrance examinations.

The lighting conditions was not very good at the day I went here due to cloudy weather. Also there was not much kouyou (紅葉) or autumn foliage yet. I will definitely come back here to see the famed momiji and ume in February next year.

You can read for more information in the shrine’s site here: http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/top_en.php#en_tp4

Zenkyo-an is a sub-temple of Kennin-ji (建仁寺) which is located in Higashiyama-ku just across the Ebisu-jinja. What’s interesting about this place is the presence of many wild pig or boar statues. Still, it’s a nice quiet place tucked hidden in the narrow streets of Kyoto unlike other shrines or temples.

Ebisu-jinja (“Ebisu Shrine”) is a Shinto shrine located in Higashiyama-ku dedicated to Ebisu, one of the Shichi Fukujin or seven lucky gods. I found it while randomly strolling around the Miyagawa-cho area. Right now there aren’t much shrine goers but I bet it’ll get busier when New Year comes.

Shimogamo-jinja (“Lower Kamo Shrine”) is a Shinto shrine located at Sakyo-ku dedicated to the creator and guardian of the Kyoto City, Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto with his daughter Tamayorihime-no-mikoto. It was built even before the Heian era and is currently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s sister shrine is Kamigamo-jinja located upstream of the Kamo-gawa (“Kamo River”). Meanwhile Tadasu-no-Mori (“Forest of Corrections”) is a virgin forest which goes back during the Yayoi period. It was very relaxing walking through the forest path, hearing the chirps of wild birds and the quiet murmur of the flowing stream and as well as seeing the lush green scenery. I am looking forward to going back when the leaves have changed colors.

You can read for more information in the shrine’s site here: http://www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp/english.html