Kyoto, Japan

霊鑑寺 (京都市左京区鹿ケ谷御所ノ段町)

This temple (Zen nunnery) was established in 1654 by the retired Emperor Go-Mizunoo (後水尾天皇) for his daughter/princess, Jo-hosshin-in-no-miya-shuchou-ni (皇女浄法身院宮宗澄尼). There used to be the tradition to send one of the daughters of each Emperor to the monastery as the Buddhist nun. For this reason, the temple was also called, Tani-no-Gosho (谷の御所) and Shishigatani Bikuni Gosho (鹿ヶ谷比丘尼御所). It houses the treasures including 200 Gosho (Imperial) dolls and numerous Shikan (宸翰) – the collections of writings by the Emperors.

This temple is normally close to public except for some special occasions during Spring and Autumn. The visitors can enjoy the camellia flowers during Spring, and the bright reds of the maple leaves in Autumn.

It is another quiet and peaceful temple, but this temple tends to invoke rather lonely feeling. Parhaps it is due to the fact that those princess who were sent here to become nuns had to “unwillingly” forfeit their imperial livelihood and spending and dedicating the rest of their lives to the practice of Buddhism.

One would never know which life was better at that time, for some princesses did willingly choose such life in the temple.

At any rate, it was very honored experience for us to spend some time in this temple.

On the positive note, we were able to see the beautiful camellia flowers, and I was thrilled to be able to see the Shorea robusta trees(沙羅双樹) for the first time!