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[personal profile] akujunkan
Astute readers may remember me threatening to do this late last September. Well, I'm a woman of my word, so let's talk Kenninji. If guidebooks were anything to judge by, it's nothing special, but it is perhaps my all time favorite temple in Kyoto. Kennninji was the first Zen temple built in said city and belongs to the Rinzai sect, which is cool because it's the sect where they slap you around with sticks to enlighten you.

Perhaps this is why Kenninji rocks my socks so terribly much.

The first thing of note about Kenninji is that it's got some really beautiful Zen rock gardens. You can actually sit down and enjoy them because unlike Ginkakuji or Ryoanji, Kenninji isn't well known.

One of my friends had a cool picture on her wall of the gods of thunder and lightening. I took a picture of it on a whim to use as my keitai wallpaper. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that her picture was a reproduction of a partition scroll at Kenninji!

I'd studied these guys my sophomore year of high school.

But the coolest thing about Kenninji is that unlike the big names - Kinkakuji springs to mind - it's a living temple. There is so much going on there that it's a blast to revisit. Example: I was walking toward the sanmon when I heard the unmistakable sound of a bike speeding toward me. I moved out of the way in time to see a temple monk in full ceremonial garb whiz by on a mountain bike. Too cool.

Visitors can sit zazen on the first Sunday of every month, and there are film screenings and loads of lectures. Entire wings of the temple are opened up for visitors to go hang out in, and you can usually see people sleeping, reading books or chilling with their kids therein.

During my last visit the temple was hosting an exhibit by some weird postmodern German artist. That's a television and dj's turntable set chilling in the otoko next to a really old scroll of Bodhidharma.

Kenninji isn't just preserved 'as it was in the [....] period,' which makes it way cooler in my eyes than the former type of temple. This image

was recently commissioned in honor of the temple's 800th birthday. It covers the entire hattou ceiling and is just awe-inspiring to view firsthand.

Now, in order to get to the hattou (and the tatami rooms and lecture area and gardens) you have to enter the temple, which necessitates the removal of street shoes. Most temples have visitors wear crappy plastic slippers that just reek of athelete's foot. Not Kenninji. Because Kenninji is cool, visitors get to wear:



How bleepin' cool is that?

I challenge you to find a bathroom this clean, comfortable, or awesome anywhere else in Japan. (On a weird sidenote, this image has been viewed more times than most of the photographs in my album.)


The teahouse and its gardens are also gorgeous.

And finally, here's a cat chilling in the gate to the abbot's quarters:

In closing, this temple rocks.

That will be all.

on 2005-11-08 01:01 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] theosakakoneko.livejournal.com
What a great description. Hey, you ever get those pictures from the garden we visited after the translation seminar? That place was really pretty too.
Man, I'll have to visit this place the next time I go over to Kyoto.

on 2005-11-08 01:38 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] akujunkan.livejournal.com
Do go! I love it there! And yes, I do have the pictures (I was planning on doing said temple next.) Do you have aim so I can send you the ones of you?

on 2005-11-08 02:46 pm (UTC)
ext_12544: (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] bloody-american.livejournal.com
It looks awesome. ;D

And that work that was commissioned for the 800th birthday, those are dragons, correct? I love it.

on 2005-11-08 10:59 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] bran420-7.livejournal.com
Those pictures are sweet. I hope to one day visit and hire you as my tour guide. Do you take payment in sexual favors? Oh, and by the way, props on finding some Superbowl material; how did that make you feel? Read my last post; I have baby news!!!


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