Myoshinji Temple – my home in Kyoto

25 Jun

At the close of my first week in Kyoto, I’m starting to settle into the rhythm of things around here.  Basically it’s just about perfect.

The temple of Daishen-in within the Myoshin-ji temple complex has been gracious enough to house a group of University of Oregon students for a solid month, every summer for the past 15 years.  I like to imagine that they’ve set this up to test their own Zen-ness.

Here’s a shot of the main ingawa:

Main Ingawa

We get up every morning around 6am and drink tea, listen to the head monk chanting the Heart Sutra, and prepare ourselves for the day.  Then we usually have a fairly fully scheduled, yet flexible day.  Our teachers take us to visit other temples, tour around the city’s nooks and crannies and greenspaces, and usually somewhere in the day is several hours of watercolor painting.  We have wonderful instructors:  Satoko Motouji (a well-known artist working in Oregon and Italy), Daisuke Yoshimura (a landscape architect in Colorado), and Ron Lovinger (faculty at UO and founder of this program).  They teach us so much, and we are progressing rapidly every day.  Later I’ll try to post some of my work so far.

At the end of the day, we come back to a scene of elegant simplicity.  We cook some food (or eat out at amazing little shops!), take a bath, and retire to our futons on the tatami mats.  I really prefer this floor-based lifestyle, it is so much easier.

Tatami Floor

But, let’s be perfectly honest…our Western lifestyle takes some adapting!  Here’s what it looked like when my roommate and I first moved in:


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