Kyoto Tourist: Kennin-ji

Today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite spots in Kyoto: Kennin-ji.  The oldest zen temple in Kyoto is located in the heart of Gion.  Seeing as it's so easy to get to, it surprises me that it isn't more crowded. 

Visit Kennin-ji when you have time to spare.  This isn't a run in, run out kinda place.  It requires time to zone out, and get a little zen.

For my ultimate zen day, I started with coffee and breakfast cake at the Starbucks in the Marui department store on Shijo.  The department store wasn't open yet, only Starbucks, so it was relatively quiet, and oh boy does it have a view (as far as views go in Kyoto)!

After you're thoroughly caffeinated, continue walking down Shijo and into Gion.  You can't miss it, when the entrance to the main street looks like this!  (Keep your eyes peeled for maiko and geisha, especially if you're there in the evening!)

Just follow this road, Hanamikoji, and you will eventually run right into Kennin-ji.

 The entrance is well sign posted, so go on in, take off your shoes, pay your ¥500 entrance fee and enjoy.

Keep in mind that in many temples you are required to remove your shoes.  Complicated lace up boots are not recommended!

One of the famous screens, "The Wind and Thunder Gods".

 Walk around on the's nice!

There are several places for you to take a break, meditate or just gaze at the surroundings.

I have decided that if I have to get a new job, I want to be the person who rakes designs in the rock gardens.

 Now, you will have to grab a pair of stylish red slippers (near impossible to walk in) to cross into the other building, home to the other famous work of art at Kennin-ji.  You even get to punch in security codes James Bond style.

Go ahead, go on inside and look up...

Those are the Twin Dragons. You'll see their designs in lots of tourist shops on folding fans and such.  Really amazing to see in person!

On your way out there are more places to sit and contemplate life.  You can even stare into a fish bowl...

It's really just a completely relaxing atmosphere, and despite all the people in the picture above "meditating" on the tatami, it isn't very crowded at all (and it's very quiet).  It's sort of an undiscovered gem in the middle of the city.

After leaving the temple, I took loads more pictures as I continued my zen day.  So many that this post is to be continued... :)

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