Located in the Yamashina valley east of Kyoto, Kaju-ji (勧修寺) was founded in 900 by emperor Daigo (who entered priesthood in the nearby Daigo-ji, which explains why his posthumous name is Daigo). Like many temples it was destroyed during the Onin war but given it's imperial status it was later restored.
The garden of Kaju-ji has a large pond with a couple of islands. In the early history of the temple the ice covering the pond would be collected on January 2nd and send to the imperial court (remember there were no fridges at the time!) The thickness of the ice was also used to predict the rice harvests for the coming year. Nowadays the islands are colonized by migrating birds and at the right season photographers with huge lenses will be there to shoot them.
The temple is also known for a uniquely shaped stone lantern (ishidoro 石灯籠). This shape is even considered "humoristic" by the pamphlet, which is a surprisingly accurate description! The lantern was donated by Mitsukuni Mito, a lord of the Kanto region. The lantern is surrounded by an 800 years evergreen shrub of the Japanese cypress family.
Near the temple is also located Kasho-an (可笑庵), a retreat where Junkyo Ohishi lived and painted. The story of this lady in quite something... She had both her arms cut by her foster father when she was 17 years old and training to become a geisha. 17... She then devoted herself in painting with her mouth and reached a level of excellence that is simply amazing. She also founded the nearby Bukko-in (佛光院) temple and advised many handicapped women during her life. She is considered the "Mother of the Disabled" in Japan.
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Nearby: Miyaji-jinja 宮道神社 (140m), Zuishin-in 隨心院 (860m)
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Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 山科, Yamashina, 勧修寺, Kaju-ji, temple, 寺院, 仏閣