Earlier in the year I read the Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanazaki. I’m a big fan of his work. The Makioka Sisters follows the fortunes of four sisters from a well to do society family. It is set in Osaka in the late 30s until 1941 to the backdrop of the war in China or “the China incident” as it is referred to. The war isn’t particularly prominent in the book. It was published during the American occupation when references to the war were subject to somewhat arbitrary censorship.

It’s a really good book and covers the decline in fortunes of this family in a changing world. I was reminded of South Riding by Winifred Holtby. In one part of the book the sisters go to Kyoto for a walk during cherry blossom season. They follow a specific route visiting several shrines and temples. I came across a description of the walk on this website and decided it might be interesting to follow the trail. I didn’t do the various sites quite in order.

To get to the start of the walk I needed to get the following little train out to the west of Kyoto.

I started out at Hirasawa Pond. This wasn’t so impressive as it’s just a bit of a lake and there isn’t any park land to relax on by the pond. I wandered off through the fields toward the next sight.

Daikakuji Temple was very impressive. It is a bit out of the way so is quiet compared to a lot of the temples in Kyoto. It had a no photographs policy (perhaps another reason why there were so few tourists). It was very well maintained and appeared quite active. Of note were the wooden outdoor corridors that link the different parts of the temple. They had low ceilings (not so low that I had to stoop) and what were called “nightinggale floors”. As you wandered around the floor would chirp. It was designed to warn the temple occupants of intruders. The low ceilings mean that you cannot raise your sword. I’m not sure whether they had a particular problem with intruders but any that they did have must have been stupid enough to use the corridors and not walk on the ground between the temple buildings.

Next I went to Seiryoji. The walk down to this temple was through suburban Kyoto. It made me wonder what the landscape would have been in the mid-30s. The temple itself wasn’t particularly spectacular.

Next was Nonomiya Shrine. This was next to the Bamboo Forest. It was a small shrine. Apparently it appears in The Tale of Genji (one of the Japanese Classics). The Bamboo Forest (which doesn’t appear in the Makioka Sisters) is a popular tourist attraction. It sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is and there are lots of disappointed reviews on Trip Advisor and the like. It’s a bit on the small side for a forest.

Next was the Tenyuji Temple. It had impressive gardens that I spent some time wandering around. I didn’t pay the extra to go into the temple itself as I was getting a bit tired by this point (both of wandering around and of temples).

After a brief stop for lunch I came to the Togetsu-kyo bridge. As you can see in the photo below, this looks very impressive. Kind of like the thing you would expect to see in a Hokusai print. It’s actually a road and pedestrian bridge made out of concrete and steal. It’s great that the designers were able to make it still look so elegant.

The final temple of the day was Horinji Temple. I haven’t taken any photo’s of the temple itself as it was somewhat small and unassuming. That said, the steps up to the temple were very pretty. I’m not sure if this photo does them justice. It was a very nice way to end the walk.