Born-in-1339 Monument of Ancient Kyoto: Tenryu-ji

It’s registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  I should have read about it first, before I visited the temple.  I think I missed quite a number of important cultural properties within the site; I read up about the site only after I have visited the place.

This temple was founded in 1339 (yep, 600+ years old), but none of the buildings was the original Made-In-1339 buildings.  A few fires razed the buildings and the current standing ones were rebuilt after the fire.  Still, they are venerable old buildings..none of them are Gen X/Y buildings.

They were busy taking photos of the Kuri (Living Quarters of the Temple), while I was busy taking photos of them.


Smartphone users, despite single shade of grey

This gent who was immortalised in this painting, came from India (some 1,500 years ago), and passed the Zen teaching to China.  The painting was painted by one of the chief abbot of the temple.  While it is not exactly in the same league as “The Creation Of Adam”, this picture is nevertheless a must-see in Tenryu-ji.  Anyway, you cant miss it, it’s quite big and strategically located at the entrance of one of the main buildings.

Image of Bodhidharma

Another painting that’s a major attraction is this dragon.  This painting is found on the ceiling (hence Cloud Dragon..) of the Dharma Hall, but I think this is another on-the-sliding door version.  I could be wrong.  No matter where you stand in the room – left, right, directly in front; it looked as if the dragon’s eyes are following you.  Even when the eyes looked crossed.

Unryuzu – Cloud Dragon painting


The halls in the buildings, including The Drawing Hall, are covered with tatami mat, and almost absent of furniture.  Truly zen.  I was tempted to roll across the hall..from one corner to another corner…

The Drawing Hall

This is Taho-den.  It is a worship hall in the front, and a shrine at the rear.  The shrine has a statue of the Emperor Go-Daigo.  The wall and sliding doors around the room has paintings of ferocious-looking creatures that look like tigers or some mythological animal.

I wonder what those low tables are for?  Look like study tables to me..




Typical of any zen landscape is the garden of (daily) raked finely-crushed gravel.  But it’s not all grey and sombre; there are some lovely “teahouses” built among ornamental trees and mosses, and a brook running past them.  I love the contrast.


These 2 photos are Sogenchi Teien.  This pond-and-garden was designed and created by Muso Soseki (first chief abbot of Tenryu-ji).  That day was grey and gloomy as it was raining.  The leaves had not turned copper red yet; otherwise the vibrant mix of autumn hues would have made the photos a lot more Nat-Geo.




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