Didem Doğan

Kyoto Tour by Bicycle: Kennin-ji

Kyoto is a city of rivers, bicycles and most importantly temples. I rented a bicycle and explored first the east side and then the west side of the city for two days. It is a flat city except for a few sloped roads. There are so many cyclists that they have bicycle roads and bicycle parking slots here. I am riding on one of the bridges over the river and heading east. The first attraction I stop at is obviously a temple. I am parking my bicycle, buying a ticket and walking in the temple. I am taking my shoes off and entering rooms, walking on the wicker floor. This place is an unadorned Zen temple called Kennin-ji which was built in the beginning of the 13th century. While walking through the rooms, I am also admiring the square garden outside which is covered in red leaves. One of the features of Japanese temples is that rooms indoors are smaller in area than the gardens outdoors and the garden is almost invariably a place with its own and unique design that feature gravel floor and pine trees; it feels like the meaning which bears the tranquility and the philosophy of the place is hidden in the garden and rooms indoors are only there to watch the gardens outside. At the end of my vacation here I realise that this is the place which impressed me most perhaps because there were not many tourists here and it was the first temple I visited.