Japan: temples, palaces and gardens

I would like to devote this post to Japanese temple, imperial palaces and just gardens. I believe, you can enjoy their beauty and sophistication regardless of your attitude towards monarchs, religion or concept of God in general.

Japan, Tokyo, Shinto shrine

A couple of words about religion. Buddhism and Shinto prevail in Japan, so these are the ones that I’m going to cover here. However, in general Japanese tend to associate themselves with few religions at the same time. Moreover, only 20% of population actually believes in any God.

Shinto is the most widely spread religion. Followers believe in spirits, called kami which exist in everyghing: humans, animals, nature. I think you know a lot about Buddhism yourselves and most probably even more than me. And anyway it’s pointless to try summarizing it in a few words.

What I found interesting is that Shinto shrines often get rebuild which actually reflects the idea that essense of life is in constant change.

You can tell a Shinto shrine from Buddhist temple based o few signs, such animals statues and big red gates at entrance that are called Torii and symbolize transition to sacred place.

Japan, Kyoto, Shinto shrine

Japan, Kyoto, Shinto shrine 2

Temple in central Tokyo:

Japan, Tokyo, Buddhist temple

Here we accidentally stumbled upon traditional Japanese wedding:
Wedding in Japan, Tokyo, Buddhist temple

Omikuji are papers with your destiny, some kind of sacred lottery:

Japan, Kyoto, Shinto shrine, omikuji

Japan, Kyoto, Shinto shrine, ofuda 2

Water-filled basins are used to purify one’s hands and mouth before entering a Shrine.

Japan, Kyoto, Shinto shrine, basins

Japan, Kyoto, Shinto shrine 5

One of the most beautiful temples in Japan. Kinkaku-ji is Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

Japan, Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji temple

Japan, Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji temple 3

Japan, Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji temple 2

Below is Kyoto Imperial Palace, a place where Emperor lived before moving to Tokyo. You need to arrange a visit in advance to get there. And it’s even more difficult to see the actual Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Japan, Imperial Palace in Kyoto 6

Japan, Imperial Palace in Kyoto 4

Japan, Imperial Palace in Kyoto 2

Japan, Imperial Palace in Kyoto 1

And this is a beautiful garden in a restaurant we were lucky to visit:

Japan, beautiful garden

Japan, beautiful garden, restaraunt 3

Japan, beautiful garden, restaurant 2

Japan, beautiful garden 2

Few more pictures from various places:

Japan, beautiful temple

Japan, beautiful temple 3

Japan, beautiful temple 2

Japan, temple

However, you understand that photos don’t even show 10% of real atmosphere, especially in re-sized format. But I hope it was still interesting.

Other posts about Japan:
1 post: First impressions and pictures;
2 post: Cuisine and food;
3 post: Tea ceremony;
4 post: Devil is in the detail;
5 post: Temples, palaces and gardens.

I think this is my last post about Japan, so you can breathe out with relief… 😉

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