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  • Writer's pictureAkiko Murakami

ZEN gardens & temples in KYOTO, first comprehensive guide book!

I was happy to be invited to a book launch of this new book, "Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto" written by John Dougill (TUTTLE)

The book launch was held in a relaxed mood at Rokuji-an, an neat cafe near Heian-jingu Shrine. Many foreign artists and writers, residents from Kyoto and broader area were gathering to celebrate the publication.

John is a long-time residents in Kyoto and and famous as a writer of "GREEN SHINTO" blog. But here, he reveald cultural history, meanings, background informations of Zen gardens!!

The amazingly beautiful pictures were taken by award-winning John Einarsen. At the Rokuji-an gallery, some of his favorite photos that were not chosen to be in the book were displayed.

The preface is by Reverend Takafumi Kawakami, who is a very famous English-speaking priest at Shunko-in (春光院)Temple, Kyoto.

He welcomes around 5,000 visitors to his temple who wants to learn about Zen from many different nationalities and backgrounds, ranging from businessmen to travelers and university students. He says that some might come with initial misconceptions about Zen, but nearly all are interested in developing and practicing "mindfulness" in their lives.

"Over the centuries, the Zen world in Kyoto has developed a unique culture in terms of focussing attention. It is evident in such 'Zen arts' as the tea ceremony and Chinese Ink work. Its influence can be seen in architecture, garden designs, Japanese archery (Kyudo) and martial arts. We can, in fact, find the clear, concentrated attention reflected in all aspects of Zen culture. "

"It gives me great pleasure to recommend this book. It will help me communicate the rich experience of Zen to others as well a worthy souvenir or anyone visiting the city. And for those who have yet to experience Kyoto and its Zen heritage, the book will surely be a great enticement". (by Takafumi Kawakami)

I totally agree with him!

The other day, I made a visit to Tofuku-ji Temple(東福寺), located just one station next to Kyoto by JR on JR Nara line. And this book helped me to deeply appreciate the unique Zen gardens there. I'm looking forward to going to the others in the near future.

You can see better pictures on my instagram page:


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