Dawn of 2012 & A trip to Kyoto – II

After visiting Kin-Kaku-ji, we took a bus to Ryoan-ji temple. The Kyoyochi Pond is another admirable pond in Kyoto. It is lined with Persimmon trees. The pond looked great even in the winter. I couldn’t imagine how beautiful it would be in spring.

Kyoyochi Pond

Kyoyochi Pond at Ryoan-ji

There is a small island in the pond which is called the “Benten Island”. The brochure said there are seven deities and one of them is the “Goddess Sarasvati”. I was quite impressed and was very eager to see how the Goddess Sarasvati is depicted in Japan. Goddess Sarasvati is widely worshipped in India. In Hinduism, Sarasvati is the Goddess of Knowledge, Music, Arts and Science.


The six stone carved idols

We were able to see a small temple but couldn’t see any Goddess inside. Near the temple were six stone carved idols. Both of us couldn’t recognize Goddess Sarasvati. We looked up and down in the island searching for Sarasvati and proceeded to the main building.

Temple & The stones on the torii

Temple & stones on the Torii

After returning from Kyoto, I googled to get some information about the Goddess Sarasvati in Ryoan-ji. I found out that “Benten island” is named after her. Benten is the short form of “Benzaiten”. Benzaiten is the Japanese name for the Hindu Goddess Sarasvati. Worship of Sarasvati/Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th-8th century, mainly via the Chinese translations of “Sutra of Golden light”. This sutra was originally written in India in Sanskrit in the name of “Suvarnaprabhasa-sutra”. It was translated to Chinese and later translated to many other languages. Back in India, Sarasvati holds a Veena while in Japan she holds a Biwa, a traditional Japanese lute.

Goddess Sarasvati & Goddess Benzaiten

Goddess Sarasvati & Goddess Benzaiten

 The article specified that our wishes will come true if we place a stone on the torii (gate found at the entrance of the temple). I then zoomed our photos of the torii and found stones placed on it. We dint know about it when we were there 😦

We reached the Rock garden. It was nothing like what I imagined. It consists of white gravel and 15 rocks. It is rectangular, has no trees and surrounded by low earthen walls. The walls were made of clay boiled in oil. The brochure says it’s up to each visitor to find out what this garden signifies. The longer we look at it, the more varied our imagination becomes. This must be interesting to people who meditate.

All I could see/imagine was on the earthen walls. I felt like there was a man walking at sunset. He looked like he wore pants with his hands in the pockets. 😛 I know… I know… It was centuries before and its Japan…

Dawn of 2012 & A trip to Kyoto

Ganesh and I started off to Osaka early in the morning by car with our neighbors. For the first time in 2 months in Japan I saw the sun dawn… With the snow glittering on either side of the road.. and I searching for the kanjis I knew from the name boards… 😛 By then I knew around 25 kanjis.. and bombarding Ganesh with questions.. “What does that kanji mean..?” “Thats Kawa, right..?” , “Hey look.. I can read that sentence.. Its written in Hiragana”.. And Ganesh patiently answering me.. and getting restless when he dint recognize a Kanji 😛

We reached Osaka and took a train to Kyoto while our neighbors headed to the Universal Studios. It took around 30 minutes to reach Kyoto. It was a bright, sunny day. We took bus passes which costed 500yen each. They were valid for the whole day. Ganesh took out the Kyoto map with bus route and decided to head towards Kinkaku-ji. It took around 25 min to reach the place. We got down little early and had to walk a little distance. The streets were serene and the weather was perfect with the sun smiling above us and there was a blimp which seemed to follow us everywhere.

Kinkaku-ji.. I had a difficulty in remembering this name. Kin– Kaku– ji… Kin– kaku–ji.. Kin–kaku–ji.. I kept repeating it. Ganesh explained its meaning Kin– Gold, ji-shrine.. He was pleased (read it felt relived) when I got it right. We got our Kippu’s (Tickets) and also a brochure in Eigo (English). I was busy reading the brochure which gave details about the place and its history. We walked few steps and I lifted my face to see the beautiful Kinkaku-ji.. Wowww… It was awesome..!!..  The Golden pavilion and its reflection in the Kyoko-chi pond… was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.

Beautiful Kinkaku-ji and its reflection in Kyoko-chi Pond

Beautiful Kinkaku-ji and its reflection in Kyoko-chi Pond

We admired it for few minutes and started clicking pics. We wanted a pic of us with the Kinkakuji in the background. We asked for help from our fellow tourists. We were not satisfied with the pics though we asked 2-3 different people to click us. With an unsatisfied feeling, we headed to the next place. We had to climb few steps. We got a glimpse of Kinkaku-ji from the little hillock.. and again requested a tourist to click us. It ended up being Ganesh’s favourite pic. And whats next.. It finally ended up to be his profile pic in Facebook.

The Chinese Phoenix on top of the buildingKinkaku-ji dates to 1390’s and was owned by Saionji Kintsune. It was his villa. Later, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu bought it fromSaionji and transformed into Kinkaku-ji. It was converted to a Zen Buddhist temple by his son.  The top 2 floors of the building are covered with gold leaf. We are not allowed to go anywhere near it. It is said that this temple houses Buddha’s ashes. We can see the Buddha’s statue in the ground floor. There is also a Chinese Phoenix on top of the building.

Japanese TeaThere were shops selling Japan’s authentic stuff.. Ganesh wanted to try tea…Ocha… There was a tea-house called Sekka-tei built in traditional Japanese style. The tea reminded me of Palak.. Just the looks.. I took a sip. Ganesh loved it. He loves everything that’s natural, healthy,green, raw, 😛 etc etc.. Just the opposite here.. he calls me a Junkie..

There was a temple dedicated to Goddess of Fire. We saw people praying and we prayed too..  We followed our fellow tourists to the next place. My next post is about the other places we visited in Kyoto on the same day..