Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 3 Japanese Tea House and Temple

Today was a rainy day, but I decided to venture out in the morning before going to the O-Cha (Tea) Festival.  Since I have been traveling with a group, it was nice to take a walk by myself.  It was really the first opportunity I had the whole trip to be alone.  One of the members in our group told us about a temple behind our hotel that she could see from her window in her room.  On my journey, I stumbled upon this small teahouse just behind the hotel.  Although it wasn't open, I could just imagine the tea ceremonies that have taken place there through the years, can't you?

My journey then took me to a very interesting site and my emotions took me off guard.  Although I didn't enter through these big heavy wooden gates, I just thought the entrance was so inviting.  The roof over the doors was so ornate.  My husband is a builder, so I am always interested in how things how built and the work that is involved. 
What was so fascinating about this temple is that is it was preserved down through history.  As you can see, it is surrounded by a city that was built around it and yet the temple and the beautiful zen garden remained intact or so I thought.  Although I was in a city full of tall buildings and not far from a major train station, the gardens remained peaceful.

Below you can see the carpet of stone that has been manicured so nicely with even rows and sculptural rocks and plants to accent the rock carpet. 

Everything was kept so nicely as to show respect for each part of the garden as an individual place.  However, I kept wondering why I had this sense of sadness walking though the garden.  


Even the raindrops landing in the pond added to the serenity of the garden in a unique way.  The place held such beauty, that I desired to know more.  I wondered if I may be allowed to enter the temple. The picture below shows the temple beyond the pond.  I went through the doors and there was a kind gentleman with a jacket on that had a "Georgia" emblem on it.  I thought great, we have something in common, he has a jacket from my home state!  He spoke some English and  told me that his son was in Georgia and worked for Coke.  It is a small world, isn't it? 

He allowed me to walk around inside the building. It was lovely inside although it didn't appear that old. He told me that the temple was rebuilt, but that the original one and the gardens were over 600 years old. Here is a view from inside the temple out to a lovely courtyard.  I longed to know more about this place that had not been taken over by city buildings. 
On the side of the garden and temple is a cemetery.  It is evident that loved ones still come visit the ones they have lost. 

Upon my return, I wanted to find out more about its history. Our host's daughter and interpreter for the trip, Kazuko found out more information for me through her father. He actually went over to the temple especially for me to find out more! The building is Buddhist temple named Hodaiji. The original temple used be be very large and was built in 1381. During the edo period (1600-1850) the Joseon mission came from Korea and stayed there on their way to Tokyo. They were duly impressed by its beauty and architecture. 

The building was completely destroyed by an aerial bombing during World War II in 1944.  It has since been rebuilt on the site, but much smaller in scale.  There are 40 small stone figures throughout the garden.  They are placed in the memory of the spirits of the dead children that were lost. 

I was moved by this story and I think that explained some of my sadness through all the tranquility I felt while walking through the garden.  If you are ever in the land of tea in Shizuoka, be sure to take time to walk through this beautiful garden. 

Happy Sipping and Serenity, Lisa

1 comment:

  1. Dearest Lisa,

    So glad that you experienced this special atmosphere at an authentic Japanese Tea House and Temple with unique gardens. That is so typical Japan and it makes you become one with nature. One understands more the love for detail by the Japanese people.
    Lots of love,