Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ginkakuji Pt2 - By the Light of the Silvery Moon...

31st October, 2006 - I mentioned before that Ginkaku-ji was one of my favourite temples in part 1, but not for the pavilion or the ponds of the lower section. It's interesting that the highly formalised stroll and dry gardens of the lower zone are what captivates many of the visitors to Ginkakuji; yet relatively few people take the walk through the upper gardens... Where the wild world lies just out of sight. Or at least that's how I imagine it. Ascending the stepped path you enter a new world. One much closer to the kami of Old Japan.

For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” (Martin Luthar)

Like many gardens in Kyōto, there is a lushness and vibrant energy to be found everywhere... and a green mat of moss that covers all in a living verdant carpet.

It was somewhat of a surprise to me to see the moss up close and personal. I had always imagined it like some green cloud-like blanket, soft and luxuriant. The reality looked a little different to my expectation... like minature pine needles promising interesting sensations to the touch.

The moss isn't the only thing to capture the imagination - the trees at this time of year provide such a depth of colour and texture. From light to dark.

I'm a sucker for dappled light peeking through leaves. I wonder how the moon's cold rays play upon these leaves come night?

The scenery all around is as if crafted by an expert sculptor; carved with unearthly precision and both grandeur and simplicity. A painting in light and form.

Even though we were here too early to enjoy the autumnal colours, there was still enough shade of colour to imagine what it might be like... and without the 1000's of extra people that come out to see the golden leaves that will happen later in November.

It must be an amazing place when the whole of the hillside is ablaze with golden and red colours.

And the path continues up through the foothills.

From this high vantage point, the Silver Pavilion, like the troubles of Yoshimasa, seems a long way away.

We walked through a variety of different landscapes. For me there is something magical about the light filtering through the air here. At the end of October the air was clear and just a little cool. Especially under the tree canopy, the sun's rays sparkling in the autumn air.

I felt as if we had entered a sacred space...Quiet. At peace.

A lone bloom adding a splash of colour... The bamboo fence separates the formal upper-garden from the wild forest beyond.

The upper garden is one of the rare treats for me... I remember of the time (now quite a few years later) spent walking through these gardens with my wife, T-chan, just bathed in a warm glowing contentment. It was with some regret that our path finally lead us back to the Silver Pavilion below - and our peaceful walk through the ages had come to an end. 

The genius Yoshimasa may well have been, like an oriental Nero, fiddling whilst his city burned. However, his music - in the form of this garden - was beautifully human and inhuman at the same time. It captured something of the mystery that is Japan for me. A wild crazy energy combined with a peaceful calm. Serene - but also dangerous like the deep waters of a still lake. Contradiction is at the heart of Japan. Indeed, these foothills are a place for such contemplation... and our journey was only just beginning into the world of the beauty.

Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.” (Oscar Wilde)

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