Ending up at Hosenin was purely an accident. I was wasting time on my way back from Jakkoin as Natsuki and Kayo wandered the grounds of Sanzenji. I climbed back up the hill and walked past the stone steps of the aforementioned temple. Down the stone path I came to the gate of Hosenin. I didn't plan to go in, and the entrance price at 800 yen was a bit steep. Its garden looked rather appealing and in the end I bought the ticket and took the ride.
I don't have to tell you at this point that the garden itself is worth it. It is not large but it is extremely nice. I have astoundingly little information on Hosenin. I have read their literature and consulted their website, but I have nothing much to tell you about them. Looking at the garden, I would say that it is Zen. Zen, the Buddhism for warriors. It is odd to contemplate that many Americans immediately think of Zen when thinking of Buddhism, yet it was the religion for the license to kill murderous henchman of warlords. Who wrote poetry and had sex with boys of course. But I digress. Behold their gardens!
I wandered into the building and felt like I was trespassing in someone's house. It looked much more like a home than a museum.
This is the main view of the garden and its 700 year old pine tree. In America we travel for the weekend to Civil War battlegrounds and marvel at the ancient history. Around Kyoto, 700 years will get you a side mention in a free pamphlet. Entering this room, the steep asking price became reasonable as I realized that included in the 800 yen was a truncated tea ceremony. Macha it is.
From outside of the garden, this gnarled pine appears as a leafy version of Mt. Fuji, an interesting illusion. It seems more dignified in its knotty, naked presentation.
I started feeling more and more foreign even though I was probably one of the few Kyoto residents in attendance. Maybe it was going by myself and that is just the feeling you get anywhere traveling by yourself. Which is what makes it great most of the time. Who doesn't want to be the outsider when you can choose to be?
Somewhere during the course of tea, this dude showed up. By this dude, of course, I mean the man what runs the place. He explained that this temple was used more as a guest house and a living space than a temple and that it fell into great disrepair until 60 odd years ago. The garden wasn't tended, nor was the building.
Since then it has been well maintained and was used in a JR add campaign 10 years ago. Something he had a little difficulty explaining was this:
He had difficulty explaining the ceiling? You might be saying yourself. Well, yes. Because, you see, this ceiling used to be a floor. And not just any floor, it was the floor of Fushimi Castle where Torii Mototada held off Ishida Mitsunari giving Tokugawa Ieyasu time to rally forces for the battle of Sekigahara. It was a suicide mission, so, in the end, the samurai committed suicide. In that castle their dead bodies bled and rotted. Afterward the floorboards were taken out and used to construct buildings around Japan. Why? I am still curious as the head priest could only summon up, "If you can understand that Japanese heart...." I thought that a fairly weak explanation of a very interesting occurrence. That wouldn't be the first time I had thought that of similar explanations however. There must have been an actual decision to use blood stained floor boards to build the ceilings of a temple. In any case, that is a leg print that you are seeing. There are more striking images of faces, but I felt gruesome leaning over people drinking tea to take them. I should note that most other guests seemed surprised by this revelation, but it was written in the literature passed out at the gate. Maybe being alone, I was the only one who had stopped to read it.
Another room in the house contained a Japanese "iori." I would just like to state for the record, that I would like one for Christmas.
Oh! There is Mt. Fuji.
An additional Zen garden stretches down to the south of the main garden.