Inside the “New” Temple Building at Shogunzuka Overlooking Kyoto

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm — 1/30 sec, f/4, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Geometric Temple
the new temple building at Shogunzuka, Kyoto Japan
将軍家の新しい本堂(元は道場でした)

This post continues from New Views of Kyoto from Shogunzuka’s New Observation Deck, about some big construction at Shougunzuka (将軍家) on a mountain overlooking eastern Kyoto that finally completed last fall. This post looks at the new temple building.

In that previous post I showed this photo of the new temple building from the outside:


Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos

This looks a bit odd for a temple building, and from the back you can see that it has what appears to be distinctly-new and distinctly-old sections:


Nikon D4 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 50mm — 1/125 sec, f/10, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
From the Back
後ろからの景色

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/160 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Entrance
flanked by shelves where one can put their shoes, which must be taken off before entering

Above the entrance is a richly engraved/painted sign showing the name of the place. It's rare for me to see one new with all its splendid colors... normally they haven't been painted in 100 years, and any paint fragments that might remain are well faded. With that being the norm, this new one was almost grotesque in its vibrance:


Nikon D4 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 78mm — 1/160 sec, f/5, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Blue Dragon Temple
青龍殿

Even the little cushion-pillows between the sign and the holders were splendidly new:


Nikon D4 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 290mm — 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Puffy

The wood was clearly quite old, made to look all the older by the newness of some of the embellishments:


Nikon D4 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 240mm — 1/320 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Old and New

Inside it looked nothing like a normal temple...


Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/1.6, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos

I asked about it, and it turns out that it's an old dojo (martial-arts arena, like this). It had been carefully dismantled and brought here piece by piece, then painstakingly reassembled.


Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/2.5, ISO 450 — map & image datanearby photos
Wonderful Ceiling

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm — 1/30 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
From the Side
entrance is on the left; the temple altar is off to the right

The new part of the building seen tacked on in the From the Back shot is where they put the altar and all the religious stuff, and in the shot above it's just out of frame to the right, where all the warm incandescent light is spilling into the dojo.

I know enough not to use a camera inside a temple building without asking, so that's the first thing I'd done when I came inside, before even asking about the building's history. I was told that it was fine so long as I don't photograph the altar area, so I didn't. Moments after talking to me, the lady had to go stop a Japanese guy from taking pictures of the altar.

The shape of the building made photography fun...


Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 19mm — 1/40 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Repairs
you can see many spots where the wood was repaired
(though it's not clear that all repairs are recent)

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/11, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
From The Old Observation Tower
with the new observation deck behind, and north-east Kyoto in the background

All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

A repurposed dojo… that’s interesting.

Out of curiosity, do you know the reason or belief for why they didn’t want you to photograph the alter? Do you find that most temples are like that?

It’s common for temples to prohibit photography of the alter, or even inside the entire building. It’s not universal (some are happy to tell you to snap away). I don’t know the reason, but I have the strong sense that it’s related to religion and not a social thing like “it would disturb others”. —Jeffrey

— comment by David K. on January 17th, 2015 at 7:43pm JST (2 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Excellent images many thanks ! From Kyoto train station, what is the best way to reach this temple by public transit. Thank you !

Either subway to the Tozai Line “Keage” station, or #5 bus about 30 minutes to the “Jingu-michi stop” (plus or minus a stop or two… doesn’t really matter). Then a cab ride is about 5 minutes. The place sounds like “show goon zoo ka”. I’d suppose that you can have the temple call a cab for you for your return, or if you have plenty of daylight, just hike down on one of the various trails. —Jeffrey

— comment by Larry Tong on January 20th, 2015 at 12:56am JST (2 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Great shots!!! Actually I would like to correct the word for 青龍殿, not 青龍段, the kanji word looks so close. The meaning of 青龍殿 is blue dragon temple. 🙂

Hah, that makes much more sense. I thought 段 was strange but guessed it might be part of the dojo history. Or something. I’ve corrected the text, thanks! —Jeffrey

— comment by hlwong on January 20th, 2015 at 6:32pm JST (2 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink
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