The most alluring temple I have seen is in the north of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture; this is Rinnoji Temple. It was first opened in 1441, and was heavily related to the Date clan. While at first glance it appears to be an average temple, there is much more to offer throughout its precinct. The Rinnoji Temple precinct offers the usual main hall, as well as an enormous cemetery and a lush Japanese garden. I have never spent so much time at a temple as I did at this one.
The first thing I noticed as I walked around the side of this temple was a gargantuan cemetery; there were more tombstones in this cemetery than I would ever try to count. The image above is only a small fraction of the amount of tombstones which were present within the precinct of this temple.
Here are a few more photos of the different types of tombstones present at Rinnoji Temple. Each of them has their own special charm and uniqueness.
While walking around this Buddhist cemetery, I realized there was a three-tiered pagoda towering before me, so I decided to walk towards it to get a better look at this beauty. I made my way to this pagoda and I noticed it was much more than just a gorgeous pagoda. There was a whole Japanese garden surrounding this magnificent architectural structure.
As I stepped into this Japanese garden, I thought to myself how I have never seen anything so zen. There were ravens perched in the trees, ducks resting on rocks, and cats lying in front of gravestones as if guarding them like komainu (lion-like creatures which guard Japanese shrines in pairs). There was a bridge which went out into the center of the pond, yet did not cross to the opposite side. The summertime flowers were brightly blooming, and made the cloudy day seem like the sun was shining.
There is a clear walking path around the garden. It is built from sand, stones and bridges. As you walk this path, you can get a clear view of everything in this garden; nevertheless, you will notice something new on each loop around, like you would in a psychological movie. I am curious to see what this garden looks like on a clear day and on each of the other 3 seasons.
Here is another view of the Japanese garden at Rinnoji Temple. I was lucky enough to come here on a day when it was not busy, so I pretty much had the whole garden to myself; this made me content, and at peace.
I walked around this garden at least 5 times, a couple times to take it all in, and the rest to take pictures. Sometimes when you focus too much on taking pictures, the memories themselves are not as clear; this is why meditation is so important.
Here are some extra photos I took of the beautiful animals I encountered at Rinnoji Temple’s precinct. At the top I took a picture of this cat which is rested at the grave of someone. I thought to myself how I would love it if animals gathered around my tombstone when I die.
Underneath that in the middle is a raven in a tree. I never got such a close picture of a bird, this raven stared into my soul as I casually adjusted my camera to get the best possible picture of it. The blackness of this bird blends in with the shadows of the branch as it hides from the sunlight.
In the bottom photo is a duck I noticed, so unbothered, so chill, just enjoying the day like I was. From the time I entered the garden to the time I left, that duck did not move from that rock.