We picked Nanzen-ji because of its proximity to the hotel and its description in the guide books as one of the finest temples in Kyoto. It was first built as a retirement villa for an emperor in 1291 but was later converted into a Buddist temple. It’s currently the headquarters for the Rinzai school of Zen.
The buildings were fine, but to my perhaps untrained eye, they did not stand out among the other temple buildings we had seen in Kyoto.
|The great gate|
|Inside one of the temples|
|Dragon detail on a roof corner|
The gardens, on the other hand, were truly impressive. They were by far the most beautiful and best maintained gardens we had seen. After several days of skepticism, I finally saw the appeal of a well-executed Japanese-style garden. The harmonies between the natural and the artificial, the literal and the symbolic, the wild and the tame all merged into a peaceful, spiritual whole.
Through the gardens and temples strode a large (oddly Romanesque) aqueduct.