Kyoto, Japan

三千院・有清園

“‘The Garden Of Pure Presence’… my eyes drift across the wide expanse of velvety moss to maples that look like coral, so brilliant they appear to be in flames. The stream that flows around the small island, carved in a half circle, is speckled with every shade and hue of fallen leaves and the placid waters shimmer with the bright colors. This gentle geometry of stone, water and wood, each element so carefully chosen, and weathered for centuries, has taken on such an antique patina that they look as if they have always been here. I am reminded of the paintings preserved on the paper walls and try to envision once more, in the midst of this unchanging setting, the processions of long ago walking through this garden: the Empress, surrounded by courtesans with large colorful parasols delightfully embroidered with flowers, walking with cadenced steps, within the scrupulous stiffness of garments that revealed nothing of their delicate figures; the war masks, the princes in their terrifying, bizarre magnificence; the Emperors whom it was death to gaze upon, surrounded by “warriors with two swords” beheading the curious who dared to look, all that incredible pomp of old Japan, now gone forever beyond the reach of my imagination.”

- William Corey