The crowning feature of Toji Temple is its five story pagoda. We had almost skipped this temple due to time constraints but I’m glad we didn’t. Aside from the impressive pagoda itself and the beautiful treasure houses, I found a great sense of peace at Toji.
Full album here
The pagoda is an impressive piece of architecture rebuilt in the Edo period and the temple itself was established around 800 A.D.; the only surviving Buddhist temple in Kyoto from that time. Perhaps more impressive than the pagoda are the treasure houses though. Three buildings house incredible sculptures of buddhas standing over ten feet high, and dozens of other sculptures of spirits and deities made from wood, stone or bronze (gold?). The lighting in the buildings really captures the sculptures perfectly though, simulating candlelight quite well. They must be another sight entirely when the walls were opened. Unfortunately, like many of the most beautiful sights in Kyoto, no photographs are allowed. I do encourage a visit to Toji to see the pagoda and the beautiful sculptures within the temple though. You can walk to Toji from Kyoto station in ~20 minutes, and it is absolutely worth your time.
It is a very peaceful place.
A few steps away from the pagoda two women were giving away plum tea with flecks of gold in it. As we sat sipping on tea looking at the pagoda I realized that my life has been pretty damned amazing so far, and I did not need to rush into anything. I had been struggling with the feeling of life passing by faster and faster while I felt like I was standing still. We can get so caught up with running sometimes, we forget where we were going in the first place. Toji reminded me that it’s a good thing to sit down and reflect on occasion, or you might miss what you’ve passed by. My personal growth, both at my last job in the U.S. and in the few months that I have been in Japan has been astounding. Every six months we learn so many things and grow in so many ways, but we can get so bogged down in the stresses and daily minutiae that this can be lost on us. If you haven’t recently, I encourage you to find a good bench somewhere, pour yourself a good cup of whatever, and reflect on how much you have experienced and grown in the past few months of your life. It will be worth the time.