Sunday, September 16, 2018

Tsuru World Kyoto Tour # 1 , Genko-an Temple, Koetsuji Temple, Imamiya Shrine, Kazariya Aburi-mochi

We took a one day Tsuru-World tour to visit many other famous places around Kyoto area. Mr. Tsuru is a great tourist guide, and the cost of a full 8 hour day was only about $400USD/Day ($100USD for each of us). 

Genko-an Templeis located in the far Northern part of Kyoto noted for its peaceful and serene surroundings.  This famous temple was founded in 1346 AD by Priest Tettou.  The area around this temple is the most tranquil and beautiful area in Luobei with rolling hills and many maple trees.  In the Autumn, these maple tree leaves become a "sea" of stunning red and gold. The huge maple leaves glimmer in the sun.

It is the famous "Peach Mountain Blood Patio". Everyone looks up at the building materials with traces of blood.
In 1600, during the Warring States Period in Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu was preparing to attack the Uesugi Jingsheng of the Echigo.  His revered lord, Tori, was ordered to guard the "Fujian Taoshan City".  In the month before the Battle of Guanyuan, the Tiancheng Sancheng army surrounded the city. After more than ten days of seige and battles, the temple guardians still lost almost 30% of its army. The blood of more than 300 soldiers flowed into the river and the surrounding wood which eventually soaked into the wood. It is said that the stains in the ceiling in this part of the temple are the blood stains of those heroic defenders in this battle.

In the main hall of the temple there are two windows, one square and one round.  These are said to symbolize "enlightenment" in Buddhism teachings.  During the Autumn many visitors visit this temple to gaze at the beautiful maple tree leaves while experiencing "enlightenment". The round window pane is known as "Wuhan 窓" and the square window pane is known as "Music の 窓".

The colors of autumn can be seen in these magnificent maple trees

Koetsuji Temple was originally a mausoleum for the Honami family but was converted to a Nichiren temple in 1656 after Koetsu's death.
The Koetsuji Temple is located in the northwestern reaches of Kyoto near the Genko-an Temple.  In 1615, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu gave this area to Honami Koetsu, a famous calligrapher, ceramic artist and master of the tea ceremony. He established many new forms of Japanese art that touched the lives of many Japenese eople.  After his death, they built a mausoleum to honor Koetsu.  He was loved and admired by so many during the Edo period that in 1656 his Mausoleum was converted to the Koetsuji Temple.

As we walked towards the Imamiya Shrine, we came across two interesting restaurants known as Kazariya and Ichiwa Aburi-Mochi.  They are across the street from one another. 

Aburi-mochi is a delicious bite sized roasted rice cake, covered in flour and then placed on a bamboo skewer to cook over a traditional charcoal fire.  After roasting, they are dipped in a sweet white miso sauce and served "hot" waiting customers.  We had some wonderful tea while we waited for our aburi-mochi to be roasted for us.
The Kazariya aburi-mochi is said to be the oldest Japanese confectionary shop in Japan since the Heian period.  During the Yasura Festival held every second Sunday in April it is said that if you eat aburi-mochi you can drive away the evil spirits.

Our aburi-mochi are so delicious!

Japanese Tea goes great with these sweet deserts!

On the approaching path that left the east gate of Imamiya Shrine, two north and south "Ichiwa" and "Kazariya" shops

Imamiya Shrine is a historic Shinto shrine in the north west part of  Kyoto very close to the Daitokuji Temple. Imamiya Shrine is said to date from 994 and enshrines various Kami (God)  including deities of long life, good health and match-making. 

It was established to ward off one of the many plagues that affected Kyoto at this time period. The three main deities of the Imamiya Shrine are: Okuninushi, Kotoshironushi and Kushinadahime.  These three Kami's are associated with Kyoto's Izumo district which is in the present-day Shimane Prefecture.

This Tsuru World Kyoto Tour was really worth the price and we had a wonderful full day exploring this area, visiting the beautiful shrines and temples, walking through the incredible gardens, and experiencing other facets of the fabulous Kyoto area of Japan.  We hope you enjoy our pictures and stories that we have included in this blog!

Tsuru-World Kyoto Tour # 2 , Shokoku-ju, Mausoleum of Emperor Hanazono, Lotuscha Tea House, Tofu Cuisine

On the second part of the Tsuru-World Kyoto Tour, we visited the Shokoku-Ji Temple (相国寺), formally identified as Mannen-zan Shokoku Shoten Zenji(萬年山相國承天禅寺).  This Buddhist temple is also in northern Kyoto and was founded in 1382. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu lived from September 25, 1358 to May 31, 1408) and was the 3rd shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate.  This shogunate was in power from 1368 AD to 1394 AD, and he planned to build a large temple next to the mansion of his shogun family called "Imperial Palace of Flowers".  He started building the temple in approx. 1382 AD and  in 1392 AD, the project was completed.
This beloved temple was totally devastated on several occasions from fires and wars with other feuding shoguns/warlords.  Because this was such a revered temple,  Shokoku-Ji Temple was rebuilt each time with the assistance and direction of famous Japanese  such as: Tokugawa Ieyasu (Founder and 1st shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Politician/General, (known as the 2nd "Great Unifier" of Japan)

The grounds surrounding the temple were also destroyed, such as a 109m tall Shichijyudaito (seven-story pagoda).  Today, there is a five-story pagoda at To-Ji Temple that is 55m tall. What we think is amazing is that the Japanese people of that era could actually design and build a wooden structure nearly twice the height of the existing five-story pagoda. We were told that people believe that the seven-story pagoda was struck and destroyed by lighting just a few years after its completion. From the buildings on this temple site that remain today, Hatto Hall was constructed in 1605. Most of the other buildings were rebuilt in the 19th Century.



The Hatto hall (法堂) has on its slightly domed ceiling a large painting of a dragon “Banryu-zu (Roaring Dragon)”. The painting was done by Kano Mitsunobu (1565–1608 AD). The dragon symbolizes the rain of Buddhist teachings. When clapping the hands together, the sound reverberates between the slightly domed ceiling and the paved stone floor, echoing throughout the hall as if it was the thunder of the dragon. We love dragons and dragon lore so we found this painting was very special!

A Preying Mantis also wants to "Pray" at the temple!

Shokoku-ju Temple's Website:

Next we visited the Mausoleum of the Emperor Hanazono which is  located in the Awadaguchi Sanjo-cho, Higashiyama Ward, of Kyoto City.  Emperor Hanazono (1297-1348AD) was the 95th Emperor of the late Kamakura period. Emperor Fushimi was the 3rd prince, and his mother was Riko Fujiwara. 


We enjoyed tofu at Rengetudyaya Tea House in Higashiyama, Kyoto. 

In 1900, the "Rengetudyaya Tea House" was opened as a shop of sweet sake and hot spring relaxation. many years later, the family decided to offer their special tofu cuisine to their patrons and soon other it became the specialty of this tea house. It is now widely popular among other Japanese people from other prefectures as well as overseas customers (like us). If you travel near Kyoto you should really think about visiting this very special tea house!

This tofu was delicious!!!!

Their menu

Rengetudyaya Restaurant's website: