Ginkaku-ji / 銀閣寺

First published in Contemporary Haibun Online 12:3, October 2016. For more about the significance of the Silver Pavilion and its enormous importance to the history of Japanese aesthetics, read Donald Keene’s Yoshimasa and the Silver Pavilion: The Creation of the Soul of Japan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), available on Amazon.

Tall hedges hide the temple’s sanctuary from the outside world as you snake your way in, buy your ticket, just 500 yen, then round the corner to see not the silver pavilion itself but the sand garden. Sand, and yet more sand, white, heaped up in a perfectly symmetrical Fuji cone, the raised sand-sea at its side raked to nanometer precision. Here the tourists jostle, some taking photos, others wondering where the path will take them. Just round the garden, folks.

So you follow it. The mosses, the moonbridge, the koi hiding in the shallow shadows, the stone lanterns each with a heap of coins, the leaves of every maple electric red, shutters clicking, tourists shuffling along, in, around, along, and out again, through the gate in that hedge and there, a taxi’s horn.

missing the ghost

of the tea ceremony—

silver pavilion