Posted by: Darrell | December 11, 2008

The Phoenix Temple

Byodoin in coin form and in wooden form

Byodoin in coin form and in wooden form

On another adventure with Xo, we head south of Kyoto to Uji on our beloved Keihan Line. Uji is famous for green tea and some of the best can be found here (although I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly where). I do know however, that there are a lot of green tea fields here and many shops hawking their produce. Since I have been collecting and pressing some of the beautiful autumn leaves, I decided to collect a green tea leaf from one of the unguarded fields (although probably not the most Japanese thing to do, I probably should have left a 100yen to assuage my guilt). Uji is more that though, it is one of the most charming cities I have visited. The river lined with cherry blossom and the mountains in the background really remind me of the harmony of nature and civilization. Following that we made our way past the beautiful river and head towards Byodoin, the famous Phoenix temple featured on the back of the 10yen coin.

Byodoin - Phoenix - Temple

Byodoin - Phoenix - Temple

I must say that out of the many temples that I have visited, Byodoin has to be one of my favourite (and it’s not because of the Phoenix part, yeah my favourite book is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), but because of the beautiful combination of garden and temple. Furthermore, the museum was a completely different story. I haven’t visited too many museums in Japan, however, this one was simply outstanding. Protecting the artifacts of such a historic temple, I never expected the type of ultra modern minimalist architecture. The combination of wood, glass, black theme and soft lighting starks in contrast to the bright, gold and wooden Phoenix temple creating a perfect reflection in the water. Moreover, the museum displayed some of the best parts of the original temple including the Phoenixes that stand guard on the roof and the sculptures of the various deities.

The river running through Uji

The river running through Uji

The Phoenix temple is a deserving world heritage site that sits in the idealyic city of Uji.  And much like our interesting and fabulous (cheap and delicious) lunch; off the beaten path but well worth the journey.

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