Kyoto, Japan. November 2018 (16 photos)

This is part 4 of my Japan 2018 photo series.

Above is the Zen temple Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺, the “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”), officially named Jishō-ji (Temple of Shining Mercy). The two-storied Kannon-den is the main temple structure, the design of which sought to emulate the golden Kinkaku-ji. It is popularly known as the “Silver Pavilion” because of the initial plans to cover its exterior in silver foil. During the Ōnin War, construction was halted and the intent to coat the temple in silver foil was never realised.

“The grounds at Ginkaku-ji”

It’s worth the time strolling the beautiful grounds of Ginkaku-ji.

“Wabi Sabi”



Ginkaku-ji is at the northern end of Tetsugaku-no-michi, the Philosopher’s Path, a lovely walking path alongside a canal in northern Higashiyama. It is named after a philosophy professor at Kyoto University, Nishida Kitaro (1870 – 1945), who would regularly walk along this canal among Kyoto’s most scenic spots. The path is famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring, and its colorful foliage in the autumn.

The actual path takes about 30 minutes to walk. But if you take the time to explore the various distractions along the way, well… it took me almost 5 hours.

“Kyoto Zen”

This was taken at Honen-in Temple, just off the Philosopher’s Path. Entering the main gate, one passes between two large mounds of sand, each raked with a design that changes regularly. Both had maple leaf designs when I was there. But it was the water bath/fountain that caught my attention. Two flowers and a leaf were at its spout. I’d like to think that was a random occurrence, however unlikely that may be, but it was quite beautiful to watch the water pouring over the leaf into the bowl below.

“A matter of trust”

One of a few unmanned stalls I saw in Kyoto. Take what you need and leave your money in the tin. Another such unmanned stall I came across along the Philosopher’s Path was selling bonsai seeds planted in moss bowls.


A small shrine with multiple stone Jizo, something that is quite common to find throughout Kyoto. Jizo is the Buddhist patron deity of children (and travellers), and I was told the practice of placing baby bibs on the statues began when grieving parents did so in hopes it would protect their deceased child in the other world. Today, the practice is probably more commonly for aesthetic reasons.

“The Path of Philosophy”

“Serenity now”

A small cemetery just off the Philosopher’s Path.

“Lignum Draco and the Philosopher’s Stone”

Along the path is this large stone. Carved into it is a poem by Nishida Kitaro, for whom the path is named. The English translation reads:

People are people,
and I will be myself.
the path I follow
I will follow on…

“Life in the slow lane”

“I love meeces to pieces”

This is the Otoyo-jinja Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the hero-god, Okuninushi, whose life was saved by a mouse, hence the guardian mice at his shrine. The mouse on the left is said to be holding sacred sake, a symbolic celebration of good harvests and happy childbirth. The mouse on the right carries a scroll, symbolic of learning.

“The pond at Eikando”

Marking the southern end of Tetsugaku-no-michi is the Eikando Temple, a place famous for its autumn colours.

“Little guys”

“May the falls be with you; always”

With that small waterfall in the background, I couldn’t help myself with that caption. 🙂

This is part 4 of my Japan 2018 photo series.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Kyoto Zen (2)


77 thoughts on “Kyoto Zen (2)

    • Thank you very much. Yes, it’s reality not exaggeration. On this trip I lost my wallet containing 70000 yen, 2 credit cards and other sundry items on a train in Tokyo. I called Japan Rail 12 hours after I noticed the loss but there was no sign of it. It was found untouched and returned me 24 hours later.

    • Indeed it is, which is why it’s so popular for tourists. A friend of mine was thinking of going there for Cherry Blossom season this year. All direct flights from Australia full already, apparently!

    • Thank you very much. It was a very pleasurable experience in that environment. I even stopped for about 20 minutes to chat to an elderly japanese couple in their gallery/store. They kept giving me free stuff. 🙂

  1. Isn’t Kyoto a gem? It’s just irresistible in its quirks and lovely, minute details. If we could have unmanned stalls everywhere it’d mean that humanity had progressed a long, long way.

    Gorgeous photos as usual, I love how you went in for the little details.

    • Thank you so much. It’s like another world. Just seeing those unmanned stalls made me happy. Watching children as young as 5/6 years walking to school alone and in groups without adult supervision had me amazed. Losing my wallet on a train (70000yen, credit cards, etc) and having it found and returned to me intact after 24 hours put me in awe. It was only November last year. I want to go back already.

  2. Your Japanese photo series has been marvellous to pour over, Draco. I still haven’t gotten over that great shot of Crow Castle in Matsumoto in Part One. The details of that roofline and eaves are etched in my memory … Eikando Pond in this Part reminded me of woven silk.
    Happy New Year.

    • Thank you very much, Meg. Kyoto is such a beautiful city. All the gardens and temples and the friendliness of the people. A gardener at one of the temples even came up to me to bow before me, just because I was admiring and photographing his work. You’ve reminded me I should do a post about Matsumoto. Happy New Year to you as well.

  3. Beautiful five hour walk and beautiful photos. Kyoto is not just photogenic but comes across as so calm too. That unmanned stall is something special…take what you need and give what you should and can give. Very creative last caption there.

  4. Thank you for taking five hours for a 30 min walk. Extraordinary! The Wabi Sabi photo with the roots is to sigh for. I’m curious about this: “I love meeces to pieces” I don’t know where it’s from, but since it’s the caption to the mouse photo, does “meeces” mean mice? In my language a mouse is “miš”, pronounced “mish”. Must be that!

    • Thank you very much. I was fortunate I had the time to just wander and enjoy with no time pressure.

      In my youth, I watched a lot of tv cartoons, and one was called “Pixie and Dixie”, about two mice (Pixie and Dixie) who were constantly sparring with the house cat, “Mr Jinks”. Mr Jinks always seemed to lose out and his catchphrase was screaming “I hate meeces to pieces”. That word has stuck with me forever, hence the title to the photo. 🙂 Just a bit of fun. 🙂

  5. Heide says:

    I love meeces to pieces too, Mr. Draco — along with every single other photo you’ve shown here (and the funny captions). Thank you once again for this voyage of the imagination.

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed the Philosopher’s Path and the surrounding area. 5 hours – that seems like a new record 🙂 You have probably looked deeper into to the area than most locals here 😉

  7. J.D. Riso says:

    I just love that little guy in the last photo. So cute. It seems you have retained the flâneur skills you learned in France. 5 hours! I’m so impressed.

      • Yes we booked early. And unfortunately I booked to arrive around day two of the festival but the blossoms were delayed in blossoming and whilst there were some in the trees they were not in abundance. Ah well!!

        • Yes, it’s a risk having to book well in advance for a seasonal event. Even for autumn in Japan, I was checking websites and webcams in the weeks before I arrived to see if my timing was right or not.

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