May 9, 2013 - A Leisurely Walk at the Hotel Chinzanso Garden

Since we got a later start this morning, I decided to take a walk in the Hotel Chinzanso Garden.  I had been looking at it every morning from both my room and as we had breakfast in the hotel's restaurant and longed to walk up to the Pagoda on the hill.

What's amazing is that the Garden had been preserved and added to since the Edo Era which was 700 years ago.  It was a beautiful walk and a beautiful morning.

The first thing I happened across were the Rakenseki, 20 remaining stone statues sculpted in the 17th Century.  There used to be 500 of them that resided in Kyoto until they were moved to the garden.  Rakan signifies a spiritual practitioner that has realized a certain high stages of attainment.

Next, I came across the Koshinto, a Koshin Stone Monument.  Koshin was a Japanese belief of Chinese Taoist origin that was popular during the beginning of the Edo period.  It was sculpted and placed here where it has existed for almost 700 years.

I loved taking in the views of the Garden...

Along the way were stone statues to the Seven Gods of Fortune.

Daikokuten, god of wealth and fortune...

Benzaiten, goddess of music, eloquence and fortune...

Fukurokuju, god of fortune, wealth and longevity...

Bisyamonten, god of wisdom and bravery...

Hotei, god of peace and prosperity...

Jurojin, god of wellness, safety and longevity...

...and Ebisu, god of commerce and fishery!

There was even a statue to the God of the Garden, the unofficial eight god of fortune.  It is a sculpture in the shape of a chicken which are worshiped as a guardian of peace and happiness.

After a little bit of climb, I made it up to the Three-Story Pagoda on top of the hill.  This pagoda was built during the 9th Century and used to be in the mountains of Hiroshima.  In 1925, it was brought to its current location to bring balance and harmony to the land.

Continuing my journey, I came across the Hannyaji Stone Lantern, one of the top ten sites at Chinzanso.  The reason why is that this beautifully sculpted lantern was said to have been a copy of the Hannyaji Stone Lantern in Nara City, but, because of several of its unique features, has been identified by a leading authority on stone art as the original lantern and that the one in Nara City is the copy.

Close by was the rounded basin Mizu-Bachi, originally sculpted by zen monks for travelers to use on the road to Kyoto.

And, down the way, I found the Shiratama Inari Shrine which was originally located at the Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto, but moved to the Gardens in 1924.  Shiratama Inari is a god who is the official guardian of the Chinzanso Garden.

Walking further down the hill, I came across Tsubakiyama or Camellia Hill due to the camellias that grow there.  This was a place known for its magnificent views.  In the day, one could see the Waseda Rice Fields to the South and Mount Fuji to the West.

Nearby was Goshinboku, the Sacred Tree, which has resided in the Garden for 500 years and is the oldest tree in the Garden.

Goshinboku stands over Mokushun-Do, a former cottage now turned restaurant with old style recipes cooked on the hot lava rocks of Mount Fuji.

Across the way from Mokushun-Do was Choshotei, a tea room.

Walking further down the hill was the Thirteen Tier Monument carved in honor of a samurai who lived during the 16th Century.

Nearby was the Kokosei Well which is from ancient times and is one of the most famous natural springs in Tokyo.  The water originates from Mt. Chichibu and contains lots of calcium and minerals good for people's health.  During the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, people used the well and it saved many lives.

Here is the Chinzanso Monument to signify the purchase of the land on which Chinzanso sits on by Field Marshall Yamagata in 1877.

And, finally, before I headed back to the hotel, I swung by Ryotei Kinsui, another restaurant in the Gardens. This one is known for serving many seasonal dishes.

I am so glad to have taken some time to walk around the Gardens that morning and take in not only some fantastic views, but learn more about Japanese history through its art and culture.  What a wonderful way to start the day!


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