On Saturday we finally found Shorinji, temple number 68 on the Shodoshima temple map and as far as I know the only temple on the island with a beautiful Zen karesansui dry garden. The resident priest was kind enough to let me film the garden, and even re-raked some of it for us (a cat had left footprints across part of it) – his ritual was beautiful to see, and the sound of the rake moving through the gravel was simply exquisite, one of those profound sounds I will remember forever!
I noticed the beautiful bell at the entrance but despite the urge I am never sure if I am allowed to strike temple bells, but while shooting two young men came and paid their respects at the temple and as part of their visit involved chiming the bell I figured no one would mind…. even if I did four takes, holding my breath until almost passing out in the heat, as the bell sustain slowly was replaced by the temple ambience…
Matcha tea and sweets at the temple, joined by a friendly stick insect
This temple also had a beautiful fragrant garden
Baby lotus flower garden
This is a photo from another temple we visited, mistaking it for Shorinji – big lotus flowers!
I have no interest in Western religions, but Zen temples invoke a stillness and appreciation of natural beauty that is palpable. Every time I visit one I leave altered by the experience, and I am very thankful for being allowed to film at Shorinji. I have visited many Zen temples in Kyoto, and often you are not even allowed to take photos and I can appreciate the reasons for this stance, nothing would be more distracting than sitting in quiet contemplation, surrounded by the click of shutters (real and the obligatory tinny phone camera click) So it was a long held desire of mine to be able to film in a Zen temple, and perhaps also a long held delusion to think a dry garden could ever be captured by any means other than being present. I did enjoy trying though!