the 11th year
March 29 marks the anniversary of my arrival in Japan, where I’ve now lived for a total of ten full years, almost a quarter of my life. I celebrated the beginning of my 11th year of living in Japan with a trip to Sennyū-ji temple (泉涌寺) in Kyoto with the poets Yoko Danno and Kiyoko Ogawa. Sennyū-ji’s main hall features three golden Buddha statues, seated serenely below the gaze of a slinky dragon that’s painted across the ceiling sky. In a side building nearby is a statue of Kannon, brought over from China, that is so subtly carved that it seems to be living. It’s a beautiful, feminine Kannon, though the statue still retains the mustache and light beard associated with its masculine origins, which somehow makes it appear perfectly in transition, a Tiresias-like (god)dess of mercy.
Just up the hill, where the sutras are kept in an enormous contemporary stone storehouse, the cherry trees were in near full bloom and the mejiro were fluttering around, full of manic spring energy. We decided to head up to Unryū-in (雲龍院), a smaller temple located in the grounds of the Sennyū-ji temple complex, to treat ourselves to some matcha and wagashi. We were also treated to a small statue of a running Daikoku with mirthful, glittering eyes, as well as a series of incredibly beautiful gardens including a dry sand garden with a giant chrysanthemum form in the middle that looked somewhat like a fugu nest. After viewing the famous satori no mado (悟りの窓 — “window of enlightenment”), powdered green tea and the most delicate of handmade sweets was served to us in a room looking out on the main garden, alive with the speedy whirring of birds in springtime.
A perfect beginning to year 11.
Filed under: Japan, Kansai, personal, religion, sweet story of Trout Monroe, travel | 2 Comments
Tags: cherry blossoms, Daikoku, 雲龍院, kannon, Kyoto, Sennyū-ji, spring, ten years in Japan, Unryū-in, 桜, 泉涌寺, 京都