Friday, September 23, 2011

Summer in Kyoto - Part 1

I promised some photos from my summer abroad in Japan. The course was structured such that the first two weeks we were there, we primarily visited and watercolored gardens. We learned about Japanese garden design through direct observation and studies in watercolor. It's really interesting to me, how when you paint a place you learn so much more about it's structure and layers, not just it's colors, but it's textures and weight as well.

Entrance walk to Tenryu-ji temple
 The first garden that we visited was Tenryu-ji, we visited the gardens and then settled down to paint.  After about 20-30 minutes a monk came over and asked us to leave. Whoops... officially kicked out of my first zen buddhist temple. Is there some sort of achievement or level up that goes along with that?
Tenryu-ji temple entrance
 This is the garden we were painting when the quiet monk came over and asked us to leave, because we were a distraction to their visitors.

Tenryuji Gardens

So we all packed up our paints and went on a tour of the gardens instead. It was sprinkling a bit that day and the water droplets were clinging to all of the hydrangea blossoms. It was very beautiful.

Hydrangea with rain drops at Tenryu-ji

 Then we walked behind the temple gardens into the bamboo forest. It was absolutely incredible. Also, completely full of mosquitoes who wanted some exotic A+ American blood.

Bamboo forest behind Tenryu-ji
The cloudy skies and light rain created the effect of a fog or mist through bamboo. Every now and then you'd see a Camphor tree trying to compete with the bamboo. 

 The forest is maintained by the monks -- as this bamboo only had a life span of about 20-30 years. Dead and felled bamboo is removed, allowing for new growth. 

Bamboo forest behind Tenryu-ji

The experience of walking through this forest is very surreal, almost otherworldly when you realize that the bamboo is really just overgrown grass.


  1. Overgrown grass that looks AWESOME. I am super jealous of what a neat opportunity you had - I'd love to visit Japan, but even more so I'd love to visit it academically, with some degree of structure.

  2. hello,I am a student of landscape architecture in Malaysia.Nice blog.:)