Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kennin-ji 建仁寺 Tea Temple

Monk Eisai 明菴栄西 (1141-1215) brought Rinzai School of Zen Buddhism and tea seeds to Japan. He served as Kennin-ji's (1202) founding abbot. Zen Master Eisai, (Eisai Zenji 栄西禅師 ) is buried in the temple grounds. Tea and Buddhism almost go hand in hand in East Asia and specially so in Japan possibly because it helped in meditation because it calmed the mind and uplifted the soul.

The earliest tea book in Japan (How to stay healthy by drinking tea) was written by him. It opens with this statement, "Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one's life more full and complete".

Appropriately you can see tea bushes all around the temple complex including a small tea garden / nursery (middle) and tea bushes being used as hedges (bottom photograph). The temple complex is an easy walk from Gion in Kyoto.

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