Some things cannot be properly articulated into words, but if you have ever spent time in Kyoto, you will understand what this actually means. Of course, there are many beautiful places throughout the world, and beauty has varied meanings, but let me talk about beauty as a general theme, a feeling one experiences rather than something as astounding as the Grand Canyon.
From the top of Kyoto station we can see a view of eastern Kyoto, the Higashiyama mountain range. Lining the range are the tops of pagoda’s and the curves of Buddhist Temple and Shinto Shrine compounds. Low lying clouds cupping the trees on this vista beckon us to approach for an experience like no other.
So, we go forth proceeding east along 7th street over the Kamo river bridge. Here we encounter the river’s wildlife sanctuary including fish, turtles, bullfrogs, and salamander, along with herons, cranes, cormorants, and hawks. On rare days deer and wild boar appear in these parts.
East of the river we come across 800 year old Sanjusangendo Temple consisting mainly of a long wooden building containing both Hindu and Buddhist deities statues, suggesting the spread of various spiritual and cultural ideas from India to east Asia, including Japan. These life-size statues of the deities guard the principal statue of the 11 foot tall Senju Kannon.
More impressive however are 1,000 almost identical statues of the Senju Kannon lining the full length of this main building in about 10 rows of 100 each, carved from wood and painted with Gold leaf. These statues trace their origins to Indian Dharmic mythology covering Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist, and correspond to Varuna, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Brahma, Indra, and others. This can be described only as a beautiful sight to behold, something of noble grandeur. No statue is identical to another.
Continue east and within minutes arrive at Chishakuin Buddhist Temple protected by massive earthen walls. This tranquil Buddhist temple boasts painted panels & screens, plus an absolutely picturesque Japanese rock garden designed in the favorite style of Sen-no Rikyu, the top Kyoto Master of Japanese tea ceremony. One can breath in a spiritual calm by simply gazing upon the artificial hill form replicating Mt. Rozan in China with a serene pond in the foreground. Rocks are carefully placed on and at the bottom of the hill to create a magnificent aesthetic balance. Simply be here – breath in the elegant beauty !