Monday, March 23, 2009

The Nakasendo Way * Part 2


When I left you in Nakasendo Walk Part 1 we were in Arashiyama which is found on the west of Kyoto flanking the hills.

If we walk through this bamboo grove we will come to the home of Okochi Sanso, a Japanese actor of the silent film era, who lived from 1898-1962.
His beautiful 30 year old garden is now open to the public.

I suggest you click on these photos in order to get a better feel for the beauty of the environments.

Another find in Arashiyama is the almost hidden moss garden of the tiny Ghi Ohji temple.

I have learned that the Shinto religion has a shrine whilst the Buddhist faith has a temple.
I remember that by the fact that both Shinto and shrine begin with the letter S.

A Shinto shrine is nearly always accompanied by a torii or gate - Remember the red torii we saw last time at Fushimi Inari?

The torii at a Shinto shrine is usually vermillion in colour and the shrine itself can be quite ornate and garish, sometimes decorated with fluttering paper flags.

The Buddhist Temple in contrast is usually a much more sedate simple structure although it can be larger in size.
The Japanese religious belief system is a very flexible one. It is said that 90% of the population is Shinto and 90% are Buddhist. Most Japanese take practices and beliefs from both the Shinto and Buddhist traditions to inform, give shape and add meaning to their lives.

A bus from central Kyoto railway station took us through the countryside for an hour to reach the small town of Ohara north of Kyoto. The purpose of this visit was to view the gardens of the Sanzen-in temple, ( you now know that it is Buddhist), a modest open building with deep, cool verandahs open to the breeze.

While resting on the verandah contemplating the mossy garden an iridescent beetle, not unlike the Christmas beetle, crawled in front of my feet. I watched as it crawled up my arm and then offered him to the Japanese couple sitting alongside. They warily accepted my gift and gasped when the beetle eventually spread its wings to fly away.

People go to Nara, an ancient capital of Japan, to see the huge Daibutsu,which sits sixteen metres tall. The Buddha is housed in what the Nara tourist literature claims is the largest wooden structure in the world. But as I had already heard that claim made of the Higashi Honganji temple I wouldn't vouch for it.

At Nara
There sat the great bronze Buddha
From his hollow nostril
Suddenly darted out a swallow


The bronze Buddha and his friend occupying the VERY LARGE temple are indeed remarkable but what I enjoyed more was the walk through the surrounding parkland, replete with dozens of inquisitive deer.

We are awaiting a deer biscuit purchaser

The gravel pathways to the Kasuga Taisha shrine were lined with thousands of stone lanterns called joyato.

A beautiful attendant with a bract of wisteria in her hair wrote a welcome message in my temple visiting book. Each temple, shrine, place of cultural importance and even some lowly inns in Japan provide pictorial stamps for you to ink and press into your visiting book as evidence of your piety or record of your visit.

An unexpected find in the forest garden at Nara was the Treasure Museum, displaying at that time, an exhibition of ancient dance costume and musical instruments.

With ancient bronze Buddhas at Nara
Comes the green, honeyed scent of




  1. Good heavens! I can learn so much from looking at your site then walking out my door! LOL
    But I now must peel myself away from the computer... Have a nice day!

  2. Welcome Tulsa,
    I learned so much from your posts yesterday that I hope that my little glimpse of Japan does it justice.
    Happy days

  3. Beautiful post. I have never been to the orient and think Japan would be a most interesting place to visit. However, I don't think I would enjoy such a long flight as it would take. Your photos are beautiful and your description so vivid. I love reading your blog because it is so uplifting and enlightening. Thank you, Lizzy

  4. Delwyn, I meant to tell you that I particularly liked the bamboo grove photo. It is very beautiful and unlike any I've seen.

  5. Hi again Lizzy, thanks for your encouraging comments today. Fortunately to fly to Japan is a direct 8 hr flight from here - not too long.
    Japan certainly is a country of diversity and great beauty and one where you are unable not to learn about such a different culture.

  6. That was a lovely walk today...A tourist in my own home.

  7. Mona, I am so glad to have you for company...

  8. Hello Delwyn
    Truly beautiful post. Japan is intriguing, the nation's way with nature so empathetic.
    By the way, if you live in Australia, it is a long trip to ANYWHERE!

  9. Hi June - nice to see you again.
    I'm glad you are coming along with me on this walk.

    We are a long way from most places but Japan seems reasonable to me in comparison to other travel distances.
    Happy Days

  10. beautiful pictures and i even learned something! strange (or perhaps not so strange), i felt myself grow more and more calm as i read and scrolled down. fantastic!

  11. Hello Julie, Its good to see you. I'm glad this post had that calming effect on you. Lets give the credit to the charm of Japan.
    Happy Days

  12. All so gloriously peaceful, including the deer!

  13. Delwyn, Thank you for your visit to my blog and kind comments. I am glad you found something that resonated with you there.

    Your pictures and sharing of place is a delight, and I'll be back soon to visit more!


  14. Wow! I never seen such beautiful scene before, thanks Delwyn I really love to be close to the Japanses nature.
    Your photos and writing are so enlighten.
    I will definitely plan a trip to Japan after my full recovery from my health condition.

  15. Hello Willow,
    Nara - with the deer is a particularly peaceful Japanese town with its enormous central parklands.
    Happy Days

  16. Tom Welcome to my neck of the woods.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the walk - there's more to come...

  17. Yoon see, hello to you. I hope you are getting well...
    You have some good questions about Cho-shi that we would have to put to the artist. Can you speak Japanese?
    Takes care

  18. Thanks for such a beautiful post. I followed your suggestion of clicking on the images and it's true, I felt as if I was there! Ta muchly.

    Greetings from London.

  19. It's so beautiful, that it's hard to believe it's real, but it is, isn't it? I love Japanese aesthetics.

    Love samurai outfits, too.

  20. Good morning Reya, It certainly is...of course there are ugly buildings and traffic and people but the magnitude of the beauty, and the dignity and charm are what stay paramount in my mind.
    Have you travelled to Japan Reya?

  21. Good morning a Cin L,
    I love having you visit, I can tell from your comments that you really do read the posts and absorb their messages instead of just glossing over. Thankyou for interacting in this way - it feels more like a real conversation and makes me feel that my effort is appreciated.
    happy days

  22. Reya. P.S. Altho the Nakasendo walk is lifted straight out of sammurai history I don't have any warrior pics - I will do some homework. Of course the Samurai had to settle down to managing their farms and estates in time of peace...more on that in a future post coming your way soon...

  23. Oh my stars, those GARDENS! The Japanese really know how to tend to exquisite gardens, don't they? I think I would have hyperventilated from all the beauty had I gone on this walk with you. Thank you for all the incredible photos.

  24. Hi Bella, well we are not officially on the walk yet, we have a couple more things to see then we set off...

  25. I have reread these posts several times to make sure I don't miss anything on this journey you are taking us.

    Are (or were?) you by any chance a teacher? You explain things so well. And your photos are a lovely addition.

  26. Hi Violet, that's yes to the teacher question ...
    well I was in my first life!, then as the kids grew I first facilitated adult self-help groups, then went back to school and became a counsellor, after which I taught counselling for a little while. I think the teaching is in my blood...

    I have plenty more posts on this theme to come...

  27. I am good!
    Looking forward to more.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.