Gioh-ji Dera, Kyoto, Japan

A small temple on the west side of Kyoto, the “Temple of the Three Nuns” has no raked stones, no imposing rocks. Just a beautiful smooth carpet of moss, best seen in the fall, when orange leaves flame on the ground for a few days. Then they are raked up and burned. I happened to be there as the gardeners were raking, then the wind shifted and blew the smoke in front of the sunlight. Within minutes the wind shifted back, as if tidied up.

This modest cottage ‘temple’ was founded by Shirabyoshi, as a ‘nunnery’ for herself, her mother and her sister after she lost her love, Taira no Kiyomori. It is not Zen Buddhist, but pertains to the Shingon sect.

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