Kyoto’s Temples Offer the Best of Japan’s Beauty

Kyoto’s Temples Offer the Best of Japan’s Beauty

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Photographs by Hiroaki Shinohara and Makoto Ito.

Japanese paintings! Gardens! Architecture!

Famous paintings, gardens, and structures—these are perhaps the most fascinating forms of Japanese beauty, and you have them all before you to enjoy as you stroll around Kyoto’s historic お寺 (otera, Buddhist temples). And best of all, because you can enjoy them with the atmosphere that pervades Japan’s ancient capital, they make an even deeper impression.

Boketsuro_gateAn outstanding example of Muromachi architecture at 建仁寺 (Kennin-ji Temple) lies in the main gate, named “Bōketsurō.” Photo by Hiroaki Shinohara.

You can feel it all around you—the silent call of 室町 (Muromachi, 1336-1573) culture in the structures they left behind.

Tawaraya_Sotatsu_Kenninji「風神雷神図」 (“The Gods of Wind and Thunder”) by 俵屋宗達 (Tawaraya Sōtatsu, 1570-1640), adorn a 屏風 (byōbu, folding screen). This National Treasure is one of Kennin-ji’s most prized works. Photo by Hiroaki Shinohara.

Beloved works of art handed down over the ages adorn the sliding doors and screens of ancient temples.

襖 (Fusuma, sliding door) paintings, gardens, and temple buildings for your delight

Temple buildings show the essence of Japanese architecture, the gardens reflect a world of religion, and the paintings on fusuma sliding partitions and ceilings painted by the most popular artists of the day. These are the examples of beauty of which Japan is most proud, and they are all here in Kyoto. You can find the traditional beauty of Japan in all its forms as you walk the streets of Kyoto. Below we introduce three temples whose grounds boast some of the finest examples of Japanese aesthetics.

仁和寺 (Ninna-ji): A World Heritage Site graced with sublime beauty
妙心寺 (Myoshin-ji): Kyoto’s largest 禅 (Zen) temple, richly adorned with Kano art
曼殊院 (Manshu-in): Find serenity within the subdued beauty of an imperial temple

Room_of_Tigers_NanzenjiDetail of painted sliding doors in the 「虎の間」 (“Room of Tigers”) at Hōjō, the former head priest’s chambers, located in the grounds of Nanzen-ji Temple. Photo by Makoto Ito.

As Japan moves into the warm days of summer, won’t you start planning for your visit to Kyoto?

Kyoto’s Temples Offer the Best of Japan’s Beauty
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