Continued from before…
for Kiyomizudera see Autumn in Kyoto Part I
for Kinkakuji see Autumn in Kyoto – Part II
After Kinkakuji next destination was Ginkakuji. We wandered back to the bus stop, world heritage sign pointing backwards. Time for a quick time check. Finished lunch at the 1st floor small but cosy glass covered family run restaurant. right by the crossing. Then it was time to head back to the city center. The next destination Ginkakuji, was in the eastern fringe. Ginkakuji was originally a retirement villa, similar to Kinkakuji. It was set up by the grandson of the Shogun who originally built Kinkakuji. So it had similar streaks of grand ambition, but in between the two generations economic situation changed. Cultural mores also changed. Thus the style used in Ginkakuji turned out to be different from its predecessor and inspiration. Unbeknownst to the creators at that time, Ginkakuji style started the next era in Japanese cultural and architectural heritage. So it was naturally the next item on our itinerary; we simply followed directions.
Bus from Kyoto station reach Ginkakuji in about 40 minutes. As we reached, we noticed the area was still the outskirts of the main city. Even after 500 years, and anointment as world heritage site, the ambiance around afforded a village like feel Not bad for retirement even now, quipped my companion.
From the ticket gate, the narrow lane leads to a wooden door. The main shrine comes into view as one steps past the door onto the other side. It`s wooden pagoda style multi storied structure has borne the brunt of many typhoons and earthquakes but standing tall. Built by a lily pond, its name Ginakuji, the silver shrine, is said to have come from its reflections in the pond on a moonlit night.
A circular path curled its way from the left of the shrine past several wooden buildings, crossing over a stream, onto a ridge and back down to the other side of Ginkakuji. This whole area was only for the eyes of the Shogun, to rest his mind from the turmoils of bruising past.
Right at the beginning of the walk, once comes across a sand pit with a sand obelisk in the middle. Very Shinto-like, uniquely different from the zen style in Kinkakuji. The sand layer had delicately carved lines sketched across, as if to represent the marks of time on the eternal. Next as we walked past another gate, we were ushered into the outer garden. This was a wide boulevard around the lily pond, with bridges and bamboo groves carving a leisurely path around it. On one side of the garden there was this prayer hall, with intricately carved Amida Buddha statue inside. Next was the library. The path forked here, one going up the hill bordering the estate. The entire path is not open to visitors. Even then from atop one gets a commanding view of the Kyoto city, with mountains in distance. We reached the high point about time the sun was setting. The red afternoon glow made the whole view magical. Autumn colors of Japanese maple trees blazed in red and orange.
It was not hard to imagine how Ginkakuji would have come to influence the following generations of artisans and authors in Japan. The Shogun, the commander of the mighty army bowing to the supreme nature in all humility, presented the plot around which many playacts were made. It was an expression of the power of the subtle, the silent, that eventually subsumes the egoistic boundaries of man.
As we stood there viewing the last rays of the sun, amidst the bunch of tourists assembled from across the world, we kind of felt like we were actors in a play. In this play of history, the audience were the hills the maple tress the bamboo groves the lily pond the tea room the prayer halls. The script remained sane for hundreds of years, only the actors changed.
The day was about to bid adieu. The red glow of the evening sky lengthened the shadows falling on the water. It was time to head back to reality. The sloping way back through the village drew villagers into the path of the tourists. A glance and a bow followed a hesitant smile. Rows of curio shops beckoned by the pavement. We headed back to the bus stop. Next day would be a very busy day. We would need to download the photos, recharge the camera/phone/tablet, miles to go before we sleep.