The Kongourinji Temple: Main Garden, and Beyond…
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It's not that I don't have enough recent stuff that I'm behind on to post about, but I thought it'd be a nice change of pace to jump back half a year to when the fall foliage first started showing its colors in the area, to a November 9th visit to the Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) in Shiga, an hour's drive from Kyoto. This is the same temple featured in “Deep Sorrow at the Kongourinji Temple's Path of Jizou”, about the many bibbed statues representing children who died before their parents.

The fall colors don't arrive in full force this area until mid to late November, so at this point things were mostly green, as evidence by this shot of the entrance to the temple complex, which somehow has a nice feeling to it...

Entering the Kongourinji-Temple Complex Aisho City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Entering the Kongourinji-Temple Complex
Aisho City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan

I guess this post follows on from “On The Way To The Kongourinji Temple's Main Garden”, in that turning the corner mentioned at the bottom of that post reveals...

Small Tea House at the edge of the main garden -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Small Tea House
at the edge of the main garden
First View of the Main Garden -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/640 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
First View of the Main Garden

The weather was intermittently gloomy overcast and bright sun, but it seems that the gloomy overcast had reign while I was at the main garden. It also seems that I neglected to get a shot that conveys the overall feeling, which is the three-zone layout common in temple gardens: a temple building with garden-viewing verandas, a water feature with lots of natural stuff (large stones, moss, ferns, etc.), and an opposing hillside of well-manicured vegetation and stonework.

In this case, the “opposing hillside” was the largest I'd ever seen, crested with an absolutely towering pine. I made a 10-shot vertical panorama of it, but the result was boring in and of itself, and in comparison to the magnificence of the actual scene, the understatement of the year, so I just went ahead and deleted it.

I also completely neglected to capture the small lake/river (though a hint can be seen in the “Small Tea House” shot above), so in this next shot you have to imagine that it exists out of sight between the couple and the background...

Visual Wall of gardenness -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/640 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Visual Wall
of gardenness

Do you notice the hint of a gazebo up the hill in the upper right of the photo? It's pretty well blended in...

Garden Gazebo -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 450 — map & image datanearby photos
Garden Gazebo
Looking Back to the Tea House with a little bit of the lake actually appearing -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Back to the Tea House
with a little bit of the lake actually appearing
Vertical View of the far end of the garden -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/4.5, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Vertical View
of the far end of the garden

The lighting (or something) really makes all these photos fall monotonously flat in my eyes. I'll have to head back some time with better light (and better skill, and a better plan). It won't be as good the second time, because as you'll see later in this post and in subsequent posts, there's great fun and wonder in walking into this particular temple complex without knowing what you'll find. (If you think you'll visit yourself, you might want to stop reading this series of posts, to preserve the sense of discovery for yourself.)

Tuft of Grass and a bit more water -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Tuft of Grass
and a bit more water
More “October Sakura” as described here -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/4, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
More “October Sakura”
as described here

Going deeper into the garden/woods, you get a view of the kura, the fireproof (relatively speaking) storage building for valuables....

Old Kura Treasure House -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Old Kura Treasure House

Kura are seen all over Japan, both at temples and old private houses. They are generally set aside from other buildings so that they're safe even if the dwelling catches on fire. They have very thick walls of mud and straw, and usually have multi-layered doors and windows that close like a bank vault. They're almost always painted white, likely to reflect the sunlight and keep them cool, as they were also used sort of like refrigerators in days past.

This one wasn't painted, and wasn't in good repair at all...

Seen Better Days -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Seen Better Days
Front Door -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Front Door
Missing a Layer or Two -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/640 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Missing a Layer or Two

I wouldn't be surprised if this used to be the temple's kura, but that it was now just a gardener's storage hut.

A meandering stream flowed in this area to feed the garden lake, itself being fed by a small waterfall...

Feeding the Stream -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Feeding the Stream
Looking Back toward the main garden area -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/2500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Back
toward the main garden area

The path then winds up around to behind the garden (behind the “opposing hillside”), and you're surrounded by towering trees...

Beyond the Garden -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/3.2, ISO 450 — map & image datanearby photos
Beyond the Garden

The woods and path eventually open up to a small clearing of the jizou statues introduced in “Deep Sorrow at the Kongourinji Temple's Path of Jizou”...

Clearing in the Woods -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Clearing in the Woods
the one with the name visible is For Little Kyoko-chan ( They all had names ) -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
the one with the name visible is
For Little Kyoko-chan
( They all had names )

Then you notice that there's another terrace of jizou statues above this one, seen in the background at right in this next photo...

Just How Many Are There? -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Just How Many Are There?
Too Cliché? ( yup ) -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Too Cliché?
( yup )

Then you find yourself at the long path lined with jizou that you first saw from a distance before entering the main garden, and you move up to the next terrace...

A Second Terrace -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 450 — map & image datanearby photos
A Second Terrace
Looking Back Toward the Start of the Path -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Back Toward the Start of the Path

By this time you've started to realize that there's a lot more than first met the eye, and looking to where the path leads, you don't know what to expect, except more emotions as you think of the children these statues represent, and the parents who placed them...

The Unknown the path up the mountain appears to go forever -- Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) -- Aisho, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
The Unknown
the path up the mountain appears to go forever

Continued here...


One comment so far...

Beautiful photos, and nicely presented. Looking over the photos and reading your descriptions and writing, I get a similar sense of discovery and wonder about the temple grounds.

I’m looking forward to the second part.

That was actually part 3 (of I-don’t-know-how-many) 🙂 —Jeffrey

— comment by David K on May 21st, 2011 at 12:30am JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink
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