18 Dec 2016 : I’ve long been intrigued by the story of Shoko Kanazawa. Born with Down’s Syndrome Shoko overcame all odds to become an accomplished calligraphy artist. Her works are an inspiration to many and revered not only in Japan but all over the world.
The Wind and Thunder Gods
In the main hall of the Kennin-ji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, hangs a 400-year old national treasure called The Wind And Thunder Gods. This painting by Sotatsu Tawaraya depicts two celestial beings – one carrying a large bag of wind and the other beating a drum to create thunder.
Also holding pride of place next to it is a calligraphic rendition of this masterpiece with the Chinese characters for Thunder God and Wind God. As you can see from the picture below, the characters are in lyrical symmetry to the composition of Tawaraya’s actual painting. This is a work by Shoko Kanazawa viscerally etched with black ink against a giant white background. Even more intriguing is the fact that Shoko had never seen Tawaraya’s painting before putting ink to paper.
It is with this in mind that I made it a point to visit Kennin-ji to admire her work in its full splendour. It was an uplifting and yet humbling experience. A beauty beyond words. I stood mesmerized. In awe.
Founded in 1202 Kennin-ji Temple is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. It’s not as popular with tourists but it offers refuge from the crowds, calming you into a Zen-like peace of mind to appreciate its collection of national treasures like The Wind and Thunder God above, an intriguing ceiling painting of Twin Dragons, numerous art murals donning the walls, and three Zen gardens.
We were also treated to a blast of colourful autumn leaves as we stroll the grounds of Kennin-ji.
Kennin-ji Temple is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. Entrance fee: ¥500.
Ascending Mt Inari (Inariyama)
My last “job” for the trip was to scale Mt Inari at Fushimi Inari Taisha. I’d been wanting to do this, a mini bucket list so to speak, but the timing wasn’t ideal. Till now.
After a full lunch, armed with just the compact Lumix LX-100 and a bottle of water, we headed straight for the Torii gates lining the path leading to Mt Inari. The hike to the 233m high summit and back took us about 3 hours with rest stops along the way.
We reached the summit around 3pm. There was already a sizable crowd milling around waiting for the sun to set which I reckon will be quite a spectacular sight. We couldn’t afford to wait till sunset as we had to make our way to Nagoya for the night to catch our flight back tomorrow morning.
Overall it was a great trip driving around this part of Japan and spending quality time together.
This is the last of the series of posts on our 9-day trip to Ise-Shima, Shingu, Nara and Kyoto.
Day 1: Nagoya to Ise-Shima
Day 2: Exploring Ise-Shima and Ago Bay
Day 3: Scenic Drive From Shima to Shingu
Day 4: Paying Homage to the Historic Shrines of Kumano
Day 5: Driving from Shingu to Kyoto
Day 6: Exploring Arashiyama and Ancient Kyoto
Day 7: Visit to Nishiki Market, Kiyomizudera and Fushimi Inari Taisha
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