Religion & Philosophy at Lyon College


Nichols Japan Trip -- Day 5

Day 5 (May 17) -- Walking the "Path of Philosophy" in northeastern Kyoto

[click on the thumbnail pictures to see the full size photographs]

Standing outside the entrance to Three Sisters Inn Annex.

The Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji).

The pavilion began as a retreat for a 15th century emperor who did not want to be bothered by the wars and suffering his subjects in Kyoto were undergoing. He built the pavilion to look east, up into the mountain and away from his afflicted people. Eventually the property came into the care of the Sokoku School of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Ginkaku-ji had the most beautiful garden. There were two sand sculptures. One repreented Mt. Fuji, the other, waves. The sculptures were originally used for extra sand but then became an art form all their own. -KR

View of the northeastern mountains from the Silver Pavilion.

The "waves" of Ginkaku-ji.

This garden was made in 1482 by the best gardener that has ever lived, Yoshimasa. -JH

In this garden every plant seems to be in the right spot and meditating in the middle of this ...every thought in the mind seems to be in the right spot as well. -JH

Shinto imagery found in the midst of Buddhist temples.

View of Kyoto from grounds of the Silver Pavilion.

The Silver Pavilion from the gardens above.

Series of Jizo Buddha figures. Jizo is associated with the loss of a child, miscarriages, and abortions. Collections like this are found almost everywhere we went.

A small Buddhist statue from the 13th century at Honen-in, a Jodo (Pure Land) Buddhist temple.

After leaving Ginkaku-ji we walked through small neighborhood streets to reach Honen-in. This temple seemed tiny compared to previous temples. Sitting below the statue, we discussed philosophical and religious questions. -MR

Buddhist cemetery along the Philosopher's Path.

Next we headed to Nanzen-ji. On the way the Philosopher's Walk became beautiful. -JP

Incense pot at Nanzen-ji.

Gate at Nanzen-ji.

Upon arrival [at Nanzen-ji] we heard the harmony of monks chanting. I couldn't help thinking of how beautiful chanting and worship hymns sound. -MR

Aquaduct at Nanzen-ji.

Inside Nanzen-ji there are several smaller Zen gardens that mke this place incredibly appealing for meditation and self-reflection. -JH

This garden had a dragon shaped pond and was very peaceful. -KR

Zen Rock Garden at Nanzen-ji.

In many ways, I found the smaller rock gardens here more moving than the famous one at Ryoan-ji. -PCB

All of us were struck by the beauty and variety of the many gardens of Nanzen-ji.


The temple was given to the Jodo sect of Buddhism by the Tokugawa shogunate. It is now the headquarters of the sect, and we saw that many people come there to offer prayers, led by the chanting and playing of a gong by a resident monk

Stone stairs as seen through Chion-in gate.

The long, steep stairs at Chion-in were not only used in a scene from The Last Samurai, they were also the site of a race between two unnamed Lyon students!

Further up the hill was the largest bell in Japan. A gardener told us about how it was built. Basically it was cast in the ground, then slowly dug out. -KR

It takes 17 monks to move the timber that strikes it, and on New Year's day only, it is struck 108 times to symbolize the need to be purified of the 108 types of wickedness that afflicts humankind.

Eating out after a long day of walking and touring.

We found a nice traditional Japanese restaurant for dinner. Matt and I split good sushi, eel and cucumber rolls and crab and salad rolls. -JP

Click here for  Days 1-2 -- Arriving in Tokyo and on to Kyoto

Click here for Day 3 -- First full day in Kyoto (May 15)

Click here for Day 4 -- Day trip to Nara (May 16)

Click here for Day 6 -- Western and South Central Kyoto including Gion Corner (May 18)

Click here for Day 7 -- Day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima (May 19)

Click here for Day 8 -- Free Day (May 20)

Click here for Days 9 & 10 -- Ise and Pearl Island (May 21-22)

Click here for Days 11 & 12 -- Tokyo to U.S.A. (May 23-24)


For more information about Lyon College's Nichols Study Abroad programs click here: 


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