Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ninna-ji (albeit sans the Omuro Eighty-Eight Temple Pilgrimage)

A view that I was happy to spend some time
leisurely taking in at Ninna-ji
 I also very much appreciated that visitors are able to
take photos of as well as view the beautifully decorated 
interiors of buildings there such as its Shinden (main building)

 View of the interior of Ninna-ji's Reimeiden (worship hall)

 View from the Chu-mon (central gate) looking out
towards the Nio-mon (second, main gate)

Only in Kyoto... after visiting four UNESCO World Heritage listed properties in the form of Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji, and Ryoanji), I went and visited a fifth one in the form of Ninna-ji, located just around 20 minutes walk (max!) from Ryoanji!

Formerly an imperial residence, Ninna-ji now serves as the headquarters of the Omuro School of the Shingon Buddhist sect, and a nationally known ikebana school. Comprising a large complex that's home to a five storey pagoda, large main gate, a raked gravel garden along with other, greener gardens, beautiful halls  and more, it nonetheless doesn't seem to attract that many visitors -- at least not when I visited one weekday morning.

More than any other attraction that I visited in Kyoto, Ninna-ji was the one that was the quietest and most serene feeling.  I'm not sure if it's a related matter but, as it so happens, it also seemed to be the one that had the fewest sections that were off limits to the public and photographers.

Although I spent quite a bit of time and checked out many parts of Ninna-ji's extensive grounds, I have to admit that I left it feeling a bit frustrated -- because by the time I figured out where lay the entrance to its Omuro Eighty-Eight Temple Pilgrimage route that I first read about in Judith Clancy's Exploring Kyoto: On Foot in the Ancient Capital, it was around midday and the sun was beating down too heavily at that point in the day for me to still want to go along the 3 kilometer length trail that would take me up and down a nearby hill, especially without yet having had a proper lunch!

Especially in light of the great experience I had trekking up and down 233 meter high Mount Inari as part of my visit to the Fushimi Inari shrine (more on this later), I'd have to say that should I ever visit Kyoto again, the Omuro Eighty-Eight Temple Pilgrimage will be at the top of my "to do" list.  In the meantime, I'll just try to look at the bright side -- and feel privileged that I did manage to check out other parts of Ninna-ji on my visit to this very aesthetically impressive temple complex. 


Anonymous said...

Great photos, Yvonne, some of the best I've seen of your Nipponese images. Top photo: the vertical shot leads the eye upward from the strip of grass in the foreground, then to the water and rocks, then upward to the trees, then further upward to the vertical pagoda where the eye exits among the clouds and sky.

The photo of the Worship Hall captures a space that is filled with carefully arranged objects to create a perfect compositional balance. I think that the Hong Kong art director, William Chang, would like this hall.

Bottom photo shows how much you must have enjoyed the spaciousness of the temple grounds without crowds of people...This photo-essay captures a peaceful day that a traveler would long remember.


YTSL said...

Hi Bill --

Thanks for the comments! Re the top photo: don't forget the gravel bottom bit -- I really wish my photo could do more justice to the amazing dry rock gardens I saw in Kyoto... :)

And teehee re your reference to William Chang. My feeling is that it doesn't take a genius to appreciate the beauty of that hall -- and Ninna-ji in general, especially on uncrowded occasions like when I was there. :)