After the cherry blossoms fall, successive waves of spring flowers vie for our attentions. At Matsuo Taisha bright gold kerria, known as “yamabuki” in Japanese, are in full bloom right now.
We went to see them last year, but for some reason I never got around to posting the pictures – until now.
Matsuo Taisha, (formally called Matsu-no-O Taisha), is said to have been founded in 701 AD, thus predating Kyoto itself and may even be the oldest of Kyoto’s shrines (though a few shrines make this claim).
The yamabuki or kerria, are certainly lovely. Yamabuki is sometimes translated as “Japanese yellow rose”, but I find this misleading. They bear no relation to roses, and don’t resemble them in the slightest. Besides kerria is quite a pretty name, don’t you think?
Entry to the outer grounds of the shrine is free. This is where the kerria is (in massive quantities).
There is also an inner garden which you have to pay to get into, but I wouldn’t bother. It is rather disappointing. This is what the inner garden looks like at its best.
But basically it is quite an ugly and haphazard assortment of rocks quite lacking in any sense of grace or aesthetic design.
What is worse, there is very little sense of care about this garden. The whole place seems very sloppily presented with working tools left lying around the place, and walkways that look like this.
There seemed to be a lot of plastic wire and piping lying around too, with sections of the garden separated by sloppily tacked together sheets of plywood.
On my way in to the shrine I spotted some patriotic posters preaching national pride. The one on the left says “I’m so glad I am Japanese!” and the one on the right reads “Let’s raise the Hi-no-Maru!”. The Hi-no-Maru is of course Japan’s national flag.
It seemed very telling that those who speak loudest of love of country and national pride, cannot properly tend to their own patch of garden. Really, where is the pride in that?
I enjoyed Matsuo Taisha for the kerria. They are very much worth seeing. Give the inner garden a miss though. I found that rather depressing.
This shrine sits right by Matsuo station which is easily reached on the Hankyu line. From Kawaramachi station it takes about 16 minutes with one change at Katsura. Check Jorudan for details. Here is a map of the location.
You can read more about the history of Matsuo Taisha on John Dougill’s very excellent Green Shinto blog.
nona orbach says
a small addition from 2013, a site specific-art project I made there…
Michael Lambe says
Thank you, Nona!