Fallen blossom on a moss-covered stump filled with rainwater
Our third stop for the day was Ginkakuji. Ginkakuji is also a Zen temple with a beautiful garden. While Ginkakuji is famous for its beautiful Silver Pavillion, it was actually under renovation during our visit in March 2008, and so was shrouded in construction scaffolding. I don’t know how long it will be under renovation for, but I hope to get back to Kyoto to see it sometime.
Upon entering, you first reach their dry garden. The raked sand here seems almost severe compared to Ryoanji and Manshuin. There is a huge, flat-topped cone of sand in front of the pavilion, with sharp corners at its top and base. Then there is an expanse of sand that alternates between ridged and flat sections. Rather than appearing to mimics nature, it is quite unnatural in its rigid geometry.
Past the raked sand there is a lovely garden. There is a display of the different mosses that can be found throughout the garden. The touchable boxes are labeled “Mosses at Ginkakuji,” “Very Important Moss,” and “Moss the Interrupter.”
Although the garden mimics nature, you can also see several groundskeepers making their way through the garden, unobtrusively snatching up every twig and leaf that is out of place. Yet even after they have fallen detritus, the spent blossoms remain, perfectly perched, to capture the admiration of the passing tourists. I didn’t see any groundskeepers move any blossoms to more striking positions, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they do…