Ian Ropke writes:
This summer take the narrow road south from the gate of Ginkaku-ji Temple to the elevated world of Hōnen-in Temple. Here you will find the sun shining on a large bamboo grove. Here you will find birds singing sweetly high above. Here you will experience long, silent moments.
If one walks this same path every day, one will discover the fresh new breath of the changing seasons. New flowers will open your heart and mind. In early spring, plum and peach flowers bloom here, followed by cherry blossoms in mid spring. In the first days of May: the wonder of the fresh green of a new generation of young leaves.
The monks at Hōnen-in Temple teach about nature and living in harmony with the natural world. The temple also opens its doors to art exhibitions and music concerts by artists from around the world. Nearby, you will find Anraku-ji Temple and Ryokan-ji Temple. Like Hōnen Temple, both of these temples are quiet and peaceful too.
On the north side of Ryokan-ji, stands the private resident of Mr. Shio-mi, who has been displaying his special family of bonsai, on tiered shelves, to the public for many years. It is the custom for people to show some of their favourite flowering plants to the passing public. Kyoto people love flowers.
Also in this area you will often see colorful, shiny new rickshaws passing by, pulled by strong, tanned young men. And people walking their dog in the evening light. Walking along the paths of Kyoto quiets the heart and brings simple joys to the soul. And every day at four in the afternoon the bell at Hōnen-in rings out over the neighborhood. And this sound too, should you hear it, has a soothing effect on the soul.
Related article: Michael Lambe’s previous post on Hōnen-in with directions!