It's that time of year again, so I headed to Kyoto to join the crowds admiring the autumn foliage.
First stop was Nanzenji Temple (南禅寺), one of Japan's most important Zen temples. It plays a supervising role in the "five mountain system" under the title "First Temple of The Land".
Its history dates back to the mid 13th century when Emperor Kameyama built his retirement villa here and later converted it into a zen temple. The oldest of the present buildings were built after the Muromachi civil wars (1333-1572) when all the previous buildings were destroyed. That's a recurring theme with Japanese historical sites; wooden buildings plus perpetual war aren't a good mix!
Tenjuan rock garden from Sanmon gate.
Momiji through the bamboo
Next was Eikando temple (永観堂), which is located just down the road from Nanzen-ji and is well known for its autumn colour.
Momiji (Japanese maple)
Fallen ginkgo leaves
About a 15 minute walk from Eikan-do along philosopher's road is Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺; silver-pavilion temple).
Much like Nanzenji, this temple was created initially as a retirement home and then later converted into a temple. Commissioned by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, it was orignially intended to be covered in silver, emulating Kinkaku-ji (golden-pavilion temple) that was commissioned by Yoshimasa's grandfather Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.
Unfortunately that work could not be completed before Yoshimasa's death, so the temple remains in its unfinished state to this day. Because of this it is often cited as an example of the Japanese aesthetic of "wabi-sabi" (beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete").
Not so silver pavilion temple
The photos above may paint a picture of Kyoto as a quiet, serene place during this season. Unfortunately, reality is somewhat different:
When we got back into the centre of Kyoto we came across this anti-Nuclear protest. It was pretty amusing watching two very indecisive police officers eventually pluck up the courage to confront them. Didn't seem to make much difference though as the protest was still going a couple of hours later!
To finish the day off we stopped off for a beer at the Asahi restaurant before having a kebab and heading home.