Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kyoto the Trip! Part 3 - Ryoanji and Ninnaji

The second day of our trip saw us hitting a couple more UNESCO world heritage sites in the afternoon - Ryoanji and Ninnaji.

First we hit Ryoanji. Its a spacious temple in the northwestern part of the city, not far from the more famous Kinkakuji (which we skipped this time around). Some of the cherry trees were in bloom in the gardens:
Ryoanji is most famous for its Zen rock garden:
Created in the Muromachi period by the monk Tokuho Zenketsu (I've got the brochure in my lap as I type this), its a pleasant place to sit and relax for a few minutes, assuming it isn't besieged by crowds when you go.

The temple also has a large, regular garden that features a surprisingly large pond:
We tried some tea near the gate:
After leaving Ryoanji we headed over to Ninnaji, which is nearby. Though not quite as famous as Ryoanji, I really enjoyed Ninnaji and would rank it as one of the better places to visit in Kyoto.
Its a bit different from most temples because it also served as an imperial residence at one point in the distant past and thus has a lot of palace architecture in addition to the usual temple buildings.

The main gate is guarded by some fierce looking deities on the right:
And the left:
After entering the main gate, on the left is the entrance to the old imperial palace:
This is the best part of Ninnaji, though apparently it is only open to the public at certain times of the year, so check ahead.

The insides feature winding external corridors that take you through some quite pleasant gardens:

The garden features what I think must be the best use of borrowed scenery I've ever seen in a garden, the top of the five story pagoda in the neighboring temple grounds:
The interiors of the palace buildings featured impressive paintings:
We sat outside and rested our feet next to one of the rock gardens:
While the roofs of adjacent buildings shaded the gardens beneath from the afternoon sun:
After enjoying the palace we headed over to the temple part of Ninnaji, which features a five story pagoda (my favorite kind of pagoda):
There are several temples in Kyoto that have five story pagodas (I know Daigoji and Toji have them as well) but Ninnaji was the only one we saw on this visit:
After that we headed to the gate:
And began making our way back towards central Kyoto, for our first real night on the town in the big city, which will be the subject of the next post.

Related Posts:
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 1 - Tofukuji and Sanjusangendo
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 2 - Kiyomizu Temple and Maruyama Koen
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 4 - Shopping Arcades by Night
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 5 - Antiquing Kyoto Style
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 6 - Cute Buddhist Statues
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 7 - Ohara and the Wrath of Mount Hiei
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 8 - Kyoto Station vs. Kyoto Tower

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