Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Kyoto's Invisible Temple (Hannah)

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is, I found Zuisen-ji Temple! The bad news is it took me two tries to find it.
Outside Zuisen-ji Temple
My hint was to find Zuisen-ji Temple in Kyoto and figure out why it was important. Okay, easy enough. Searching for information on Google only yielded information about the Zuisen-ji in Kamakura, near Tokyo. Obviously, that wasn’t what I was looking for. I did find the temple on Trip Advisor though, which gave me an address and identifying photos. Asking around a bit, I managed to get off at the correct station, Sanjo. Google Maps the address from the website, and it should be a piece of cake, right?

Wrong. Following Google Maps, I arrived on the street where I was supposed to be. Restaurants? Yes. Insurance company? Yep. Cute little boutique? You betcha. Temple? Nowhere. Passersby I asked either walked quickly past (most likely to avoid the possibility of speaking English) or had never heard of it. Other foreign tourists didn’t know where it was, and one couple even directed me to Yasaka Shrine.

The second time I managed to get to Kyoto, I ended up in the same little street as before. I tried standing on a street corner looking confused to see if anyone would approach (they didn’t). By sheer dumb luck, I managed to find a Japanese person who agreed to show me where it was.
Turns out I had walked right past it. Thanks, Google Maps.
Inside the temple grounds.
 According to the sign outside the temple, it was built for Toyotomi Hidetsugu, nephew to the famous Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hidetsugu was forced to take his own life in July of 1595, as were 39 children and women of his household in the Sanjo riverbed. Zuisen-ji was built on the site of their graves around two decades later, and was named after Hidetsugu’s Buddhist name, Zuisenjiden.
Alter in the temple grounds
Tourists were only allowed in the front garden, so I was unable to see the pagoda commemorating the children and women, but I was the only one there at my visit so that made up for it a bit. The temple was very small, so in all it only took about 5 to 10 minutes to walk around it fully. It began to rain just as I was finishing so I had to leave.

My overall feeling about the scavenger hunt was mild frustration at having to go all the way to Kyoto twice, but it was a beautiful little temple tucked into the hustle and bustle of the city, and maybe could use a bigger sign, preferably with a flashing neon arrow pointing to the entrance.
The main alter. Inside is a Buddha figurine, but the glass reflection wouldn't let me take a photo.


Emma said...

Wow, the grounds look really beautiful! It's sad that you couldn't access the whole grounds, but it does seem like a nice place to explore.

Ethan Rosa said...

The temple looks really nice. Its interesting that nobody had heard of it though, maybe because there's so many temples in the area?

Millie Fan said...

I got lost by using Google maps too.......Try to look at the map sometimes, it should be easier for tourists like us to figure it out.