This is an authorized translation in English of a post in French by @japon: Kodai-ji, un temple de Kyoto dédié à l'amour d'une femme pour son mari
As my primary language is not English, there are probably some mistakes in my translation.
Remember that the person that speaks here is NOT me, Vincent Celier (@vcelier), but @japon, a French guy.
Kyoto, 7AM. I despair of being able to get up late. If in France I had trouble getting up at 8AM, in Japan I woke up at 6 o'clock. I have trouble adjusting to jet lag, and then the day gets up very early.
I leave my ryokan, looking for a coffee. If there are many things I love in Japan, it's not the case with their coffee. I'm dreaming of a tight espresso. Kyoto is half asleep, most storefronts are closed. It does not matter, I can quietly take photos without hordes of tourists. I go back to the little street of Pontocho where I spent the evening. A lane a little out of time that I will introduce you next time.
Program of the day: continue the visit of Higashiyama district. The day before I did the northern part, I resume my journey in the south. It is still early, the temples open at 9AM I decide to walk.
I arrive at the entrance of Kodai-ji, a Buddhist Zen temple that was founded in the early 17th century. Entirely covered with gold, it was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu's wife. When he died, she erected this temple to honor his memory. A real proof of love! Unfortunately the temple was completely destroyed by a fire and rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century but in a more modest way, without the gold leaves.
A large stone staircase lined with trees leads to the entrance of the garden, a succession of alleys and I arrive in front of the little tea houses, specially charming. If in some Japanese gardens I could see big tea houses, these are smaller, more traditional versions. We can only be able to celebrate the tea ceremony with 3 or 4 guests maximum. Everything invites to remain humble, the low door which forces to lower your head to enter, the sobriety of the decoration. It is unfortunately not possible to enter these small houses but I promise myself that one day, during a future trip to Japan, I would experience a real tea ceremony. And maybe one day I would build such a tea house in my garden!
The tour continues through other magnificent wooden pavilions with its surrounding walkway, the Genkan.
Further on, it's a true postcard photo with this large bridge spanning a pond to reach the temple itself, dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu. This bridge is simply beautiful, with its graceful shape and impressive perspective from the inside.
Next to the temple, a Zen garden with its gravel carefully raked.
The route continues through a small forest of giant bamboos, impressive in size. An incredible forest that, although of smaller size, has nothing to envy to the famous bamboo plantation of Arashiyama, west of Kyoto (that I will visit a few days later).
Kodai-ji really deserves the 600 yen entrance ticket for the beauty of the place. In the fall, the place takes on a whole new dimension with soirées at night. The gardens and the red maple trees are lit up for a show that must be magnificent. I will return one day but I am still happy to have enjoyed the charm of the place in a certain serenity. Finding yourself alone in the middle of the giant bamboo forest, which culminates at more than 20 metres, is an incredible experience!
01: Travel diary in Japan, by @japon
02: Tokyo, overcrowded city? Really? by @japon
03: Are the Japanese too disciplined? by @japon
04: Going to Japan without speaking Japanese? by @japon
05: Ueno, more than just a big park in Tokyo, by @japon
06: Asakusa, diving in the heart of Tokyo's historic district, by @japon
07: Ameyoko, Ueno's colorful market, by @japon
08: Tsukiji, the largest fish market in the world, by @japon
09: Climb the steps of Atago Jinja Shrine in Tokyo, by @japon
10: Hama Rikyu, an exceptional park in the heart of Tokyo, by @japon
11: Jimbocho, old books and tempura, by @japon
12: Shinjuku Gyoen Park and the best burger in the world!, by @japon
13: One night in Shibuya, by @japon
14: Takeshita dori : this little street dedicated to fashion (and good crepes), by @japon
15: They lie to you about Kyoto, by @japon
16: The temples and secret garden of Higashi in Kyoto, by @japon
17: Kinkaku-ji, the temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, by @japon
18: Ryoan-ji, the amazing stone garden in Kyoto, by @japon
19: The Ninna-ji Temple and its extraordinary gardens, by @japon
20: Kyoto Gyoen, the Imperial Palace Park, by @japon
21: Nishiki Market: A Must in Kyoto, by @japon
22: Ginkaku-ji, the temple of the silver pavilion in Kyoto, by @japon
23: Meditate on the path of philosophy, by @japon
24: Nanzen-ji, its impressive gate and two gardens, by @japon
25: Heian-jinju: the big shrine and its garden that I almost missed, by @japon
26: Eikan-do, the temple of the momiji maples in Kyoto, by @japon