Temple sights in Japan
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Daitoku-ji is a separate world within Kyoto – a collection of Zen temples, raked gravel gardens and wandering lanes. It is one of the most rewarding destinations in this part of the city, particularly for those with an interest in Japanese gardens. The name Daitoku-ji confusingly refers to both the main temple here and the entire complex, which contains a total of 24 temples and subtemples. We discuss three of them here, but another five are open to the public.
The eponymous Daitoku-ji is on the eastern side of the grounds. It was founded in 1319, burnt down in the next century and rebuilt in the 16th century. The San-mon contains an image of the famous tea master,…
A 25-minute walk south of Shimoda Station is Ryōsen-ji, site of the treaty that opened Shimoda, signed by Commodore Perry and representatives of the Tokugawa shōgunate. The temple's Black Ship Art Gallery displays artefacts relating to Perry, the Black Ships, and Japan as seen through foreign eyes and vice versa.
Behind and up the steps from Ryōsen-ji is Chōraku-ji, where a Russo-Japanese treaty was signed in 1854; look for the cemetery and namako-kabe (black-and-white lattice-patterned) walls.
Off Rte 112, halfway between Yudono-san and Tsuruoka in the village of Ōami, these two seemingly ordinary country temples house the mummies of priests who have become 'living Buddhas'. The ascetic practice of self-mummification, outlawed since the 19th century, involved coming as close to death as possible through starvation, before being buried alive while meditating.
Both temples are located close to the Ōami bus stop, and there are colourful signs to follow. The mummy at Dainichibō is dressed in bright reddish-orange robes, and is looking rather ghoulish with his leathery skin. From the bus stop, head into the village, make a left at the post office, and continue…