Prior to leaving for Japan, I asked my friends who had been there what all I should see, and what I should avoid.  Almost universally, people said ‘avoid temple-fatigue’ in Kyoto.  As it turns out, there are more temples in the Kyoto area than you’d ever want to tackle in a weekend (or maybe even a lifetime), so I took their advice and went to two: Tōdai-ji, which is located in Nara and is famous for its (basically) tame deer, and Tō-ji, pictured above.  The one in Nara I felt like was a must because of the deer, and because the main building is one of the largest wooden structures in the world (seemed noteworthy).  The second temple, however, was more a “finger in the wind” decision… I looked at some online Kyoto guides and saw some pictures of it… it looked cool… so I went there.

As luck would have it, it was a great spot.  The complex itself (or park… whatever you want to call it) is pretty small.  One could easily walk around it in 5 minutes or less, BUT, it’s worth spending a lot more time.  From a timing perspective, I was a little late for the azaleas, but there were just enough blooms left on the bushes to add some pop.  The star of the show though, is the pagoda in the background.  Most people stood to my left and took a picture with the five story pagoda reflected in the water.  After looking at the scene, however, I personally liked it better with the stone path leading across the pond.  I felt like it pulled my eye through the image better, and you could see the flowers that were still hanging around a little better as well, because of the angle.

More from Japan next week!

–Dan Thompson

The Toji Pagoda

The Toji Pagoda
Omiya Dori, Minami-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu, Japan
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