Higashiyama Culture


Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Higashiyama Culture  東山文化

Higashiyama 東山 "East Mountain" is a location in many parts of Japan.

The Higashiyama Culture of Kyoto is best represented through the most famous Silver Pavillon, Ginkaku-Ji 銀閣寺.

CLICK for more Japanese photosCLICK for more English information !

Higashiyama Bunka (東山文化, lit. "culture of the Eastern Mountain") is a certain segment of Japanese culture originated and promoted in the 15th century by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1435 - 1490). Based largely on the ideals and aesthetics of Zen Buddhism and the concept of wabi-sabi (beauty in simplicity), Higashiyama Bunka centered on the development of Sado (Japanese tea ceremony), ikebana (flower arranging), Noh drama, and sumi-e ink painting.
Much of what is commonly seen today as traditional Japanese culture originated or developed in this period.

Yoshimasa's retirement villa, Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion), situated in Kyoto's Sakyō-ku, was the center of this cultural outgrowth in a number of ways. The Pavilion is revered for its simple beauty, the silver having never been added. The rock garden next to it is likewise one of the most famous in Japan, and praised for its Zen and wabi-sabi aesthetics. It is a quintessential example of the idea that only the trained expert should be able to recognize the subtle beauty within art and architecture; the beauty of the object should not be underscored and emphasized, but gently hidden. The retired shogun also invited many artists, poets, and court nobles to his villa, encouraging the development of their arts.

The Ginkaku-ji was designed as a tea house, its architecture and limited decoration meant to enhance the experience of those taking part in tea ceremony. There were many architectural innovations in this period, exhibited in the Ginkaku-ji in particular, which would later become core elements in the shoin style of 17th century architecture. One of these elements was the tokonoma, a small alcove in which scrolls are hung, and flowers or other small articles are placed to enhance the aesthetic feel of the room.

The great ink-painter Sesshu spent much time at the Ginkaku-ji, and this period also saw the birth of the Kano school of Japanese painting as well as an early version of chanoyu tea ceremony. Tea ceremony would be further formalized by Sen no Rikyu in the 16th century.

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利 義満)

Yoshimitsu united the Northern and Southern Court (Nanboku-cho) in 1392, ending the over 50 year long Northern and Southern Court Period. This finally firmly established the authority of the Muromachi shogunate and suppressed the power of the regional daimyo.

In 1394, Yoshimitsu retired and his son became the fourth shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi. However, Yoshimitsu still maintained authority over the shogunate until his death. In 1404, Chinese Ming Dynasty sent Zheng He to Japan in a diplomatic trip. Ming Dynasty entitled Yoshimitsu "The King of Japan" and presented him a "The King of Japan" seal, which he accepted. Yoshimitsu replied in letter ending with "The King of Japan, your vassal Yoshimitsu" willing to improve relations with China and profit from trades, in what the Chinese considered tribute.

CLICK for more KINKAKU-Ji photos Yoshimitsu died in 1408. His villa became Rokuon-ji, which today is famous for its three-storied, gold-covered reliquary known as "Kinkaku." So famous is this single structure, in fact, that the entire temple itself is often (mistakenly) called Kinkaku-ji 金閣寺, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


The Garden of the Silver Pavillion

From the Hondo and Togu-do if you turn around you can see the first part of the grand garden. This garden is divided into two parts, though the first part may not really seem like the image of a garden that you have in mind. This is a karaesanisui garden (dry garden) called Ginshaden or the Sea of Silver Sand. The "garden" consists of a 2 foot platform of sand that covers 0.71 hectares (1.75 acres) that is meant to be viewed as a sea, though the lines are far too straight and perfect to create such a clear illusion. Despite this, it is truly a wonderful sight that you can lose yourself in. The highly labor intensive maintenance of the garden requires that the platform walls be reshaped and the garden re-raked everyday. Watching the temple staff reshape the walls you can easily develop an immediate appreciation for the work of art before you. Though amazing at any time of the day, the best view of the garden is said to be at night with a full moon shining on the sand, making it truly resemble a calm, peaceful, silver sea.

Next to the sea of sand you can see a cone shaped structure rising 2 meters into the air. This is called the Kogetsudai, or Moon-viewing Platform. There are several theories about this mountain shaped creation. Some believe it is meant to resemble Mount Fuji, while others say it was designed as a simple mound of sand used to replenish the walkways. Still others say that the cones of this type (they are located in other temples in Japan) are meant to reflect divine light into the hearts of the visitors. No matter what the true purpose is, the Kogetsudai illuminates the Silver Pavilion on moonlight nights, making for a magnificent sight. In addition, it is said that from above the Silver Pavilion the Kogetsudai upon the Ginshaden resembles the silvery full moon reflected in a deep lake.

It is said that the famous landscape gardener Soami (1455-1525) personally designed the garden and buildings of Ginkaku-ji. Soami is believed to have been the greatest landscape artist in medieval Japan and having his name attached to a temple in any way grants immediate distinction and prestige. However there is no mention of the sand structures existing before the renovations of the Edo period, which began almost 100 years after Soami's death. This discrepancy is not uncommon in Japanese history, especially that of temples.

Coming down from the path you walk by the pond which is called Kinkyo-chi or Brocade Mirror Pond. There are two small islands called Crane and Turtle Islands. Cranes and turtles are both symbols of longevity. The islands (and some real turtles of course) float peacefully in the pond and there are several rocks, as mentioned before, scattered in and around the pond. Each of the stones has a name - for example the large stone in the center of the pond is known as "Ecstatic Contemplation" while another forms a stone bridge called the "Bridge of the pillar of the Immortal".

Take your time around the pond soaking in the views. Each view is meant to conjure an image from classic Japanese or Chinese literature. The pond is completed by a small waterfall called Sengetsu-sei (moon watching fountain). The tiny trickle of water from this fall is designed to spread ripples across the water - the reflection of the moon in the water, combined with the reflection of the moonlight on the sand garden is one the highlights of Ginkakuji.
source : www.yamasa.org / The Yamasa Institute

Mondschau im Silbernen Pavillion
月見堂 Tsukimi Doo


- quote

CLICK for more reference abuot YOSHIMITSU From the time of the first Ashikaga shogun Takauji, the Ashikaga shoguns displayed an intense interest in art collection and connoisseurship. Yoshimtsu (1358 - 1408) in particular promoted trade with Ming China and acquired many works of art in the process. In fact, the majority of the great paintings, ceramics, and calligraphic works brought to Japan from China were carried back by Zen monks who had gone to China to study.

Stored in the treasuries of the great Zen monasteries, most of these works were requisitioned by the Ashikaga shoguns and became the property of the shogunate. Yoshimasa engaged Nôami (1397-1471), a dôbôshu, or professional connoisseur of art objects, and his son Geiami (1431-85) to attempt to examine and catalogue the shogunate's collection held in the storehouses of Higashiyama palace.

CLICK for more photos about Yoshimasa At the same time Yoshimasa ordered Noami to develop standards for the new shoin style of architecture that was emerging at this time, a project that was completed by the time of Noami's grandson, Sôami (1485?-1525). Nôami also contributed to the development of the art of the tea ceremony (chanoyu), studying under one of its early formulators Murata Jûkô (also Shûkô, 1422-1502), and recommended Jûkô to Yoshimasa.
© www.shokoku-ji.or.jp

More details in the Daruma Museum Archives:

Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-1490) and the Ginkakuji

The First Japanese Tea Room at Ginkaku-Ji


. Ashikaga Takauji 足利尊氏 (1305 – 1358) .
- Introduction -

Tōji-In 等持院 Toji-In
dedicated to Ashikaga Takauji / and a Daruma

Reikō-den 霊光殿 and the famous
riun Jizo bosatsu, ri-un 利運地蔵菩薩
- - - - - Jizo to win in battle
. Shogun Jizo 勝軍地蔵 Victorious Jizo .

- #ashikagatakauji #takauji -

humanity kigo for all summer

izumidono 泉殿 (いずみどの) "room near the spring"
..... izumiya 泉屋(いずみのや)
tsuridono 釣殿(つりどの) "room for fishing"
mizudono 水殿(みずどの)"room with water"
..... mizutei 水亭(みずてい)

Since the Fujiwara time, it was common to have a special room facing east to the main living quaters, where the lord of the mansion could enjoy some cool in summer.
The the west of the main mansion was another special room, were the lord and his visitors could enjoy fishing (tsuridono) and moon viewing (kangetsu 観月, tsukimi 月見).
These rooms for enjoying the cool in summer were also called "room with water".

takidono 滝殿 (たきどの) "room to view the waterfall"
Artificial waterfalls were quite popular to evoke the feeling of coolness in summer.

Kigo for Summer


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Shinden-zukuri, shindenzukuri (寝殿造)
refers to the style of domestic architecture developed for palatial or aristocratic mansions built in Heian-kyō (平安京, today's Kyoto) in the Heian period (794-1185), especially in 10th century Japan.

Shinden-zukuri developed into shoin-zukuri (shoinzukuri) and sukiya-zukuri (sukiyazukuri, detached teahouse type architecture). During the Kamakura era, it developed into buke-zukuri (武家造 housing for a military family).

The main characteristics of the shinden-zukuri are a special symmetry of the group of buildings and undeveloped space between them.

A mansion was usually set on a one chō (町, 109.1 m2) square. The main building, the shinden (寝殿, sleeping palace), is on the central north-south axis and faces south on an open courtyard. Two subsidiary buildings, the tai-no-ya (對屋・対屋, lit. opposing rooms), are built to the right and left of the shinden, both running east-west. The tai-no-ya and the shinden are connected by two corridors called respectively sukiwatadono (透渡殿) and watadono (渡殿).
A chūmon-rō (中門廊, central gate corridor) at the half-way points of the two corridors lead to a south courtyard, where many ceremonies were celebrated. From the watadono, narrow corridors extend south and end in tsuridono, small pavilions that travel in a U-shape around the courtyard. Wealthier aristocrats built more buildings behind the shinden and tai-no-ya.

Rooms characteristic of a buke-zukuri home are as follows:

Dei, de-i (出居, reception room)
Saikusho (細工所, armory)
Tsubone (局, a shared place in the mansion)
Kuruma-yadori (車宿, a shelter for vehicles and cows)
Jibutsu-dō (持佛堂, a room in which the ancestral tablets and other symbols of Buddhist worship were kept)
Gakumon-jō (place or room for study)
Daidokoro (kitchen)
Takibi-no-ma (焚火間, place for fire)
Baba-den (馬場殿, horse-training room)
Umaya (厩, stable)
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. . . CLICK here for shindenzukuri Photos !

Heian-zeitlicher Stil der Palastarchitektur


Higashiyama district (東山区, Higashiyama-ku)
is one of the eleven wards in the city of Kyoto, in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. It was created in 1929 when it was split off from Shimogyō-ku. During the years 1931 to 1976 it also covered the area of present-day Yamashina-ku, which was an independent town until its merger into the city in 1931. The name literally means "Eastern Mountain District".

Interposed between the Kamo River and the Higashiyama mountain range, Higashiyama-ku is roughly bounded by the Sanjō street in the north, and the Jūjō street in the south. Historically, this area lay outside the official boundaries of the city of Kyoto. The western part consists mainly of residential areas, whereas the eastern part is covered by forests. In the north, between the Kamo River and Higashi-oji street, there is a commercial district, and in the south there is a semi-industrial zone.
 © More in the Wikipedia


Great seeing-off fire in Kyoto,
Daimonji-Yaki 大文字焼き

kigo for autumn

August 16, at Higashiyama Kyoto
Kyoto Gozan Okuribi 京都五山送り火

WKD: Great Seeing-off Fire for O-Bon


Higashiyama and "mountain with a temple"
terayama 寺山

In the Higashiyama area, there are 36 famous peaks, some of which feature the name combination terayama, including the name of a famous temple of this area:

WKD : Issa and the mountain temples at Higashiyama


Haiku by Kobayashi Issa
Tr. Gabi Greve

awase kite mite mo sabishi ya Higashiyama

I feel lonely
even as I put on my summer robes -

na no hana ya amayo ni mite mo Higashiyama

rapeseed blossoms -
even on a rainy night at

The Higashiyama Sanroku mountains
In Nagano, from from Matsumoto to Shirojiri town there is a road of this name.

The old Toosandoo 東山道(とうさんどう)Tosando,
Higashi no Yamamichi road passed here.

Tōsandō (東山道, literally, "eastern mountain province, region, district") was an old Japanese geographical region that made up the gokishichidō system and was situated along the central mountains of northern Honshū, Tōhoku region.
This term also refers to a series of roads that connected the capitals (国府, kokufu) of each of the provinces that made up the region.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


akeyasuki yoo kakushite ya higashiyama

Will it keep the night
So quick to end?
East Mountain.

Tr. Nelson/Saito

. WKD : Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .

. WKD : akeyasushi 明易し "dawn comes early" .
akeyasu 明易(あけやす)
kigo for all summer


Higashiyama shizuka ni hane no ochini keri

a feather shuttlecock
gently falling -
Higashiyama hill

Takahama Kyoshi

WKD : Shuttlecock Haiku


Higashiyama hikushi harusame kasa no uchi

Higashiyama is a low mountain,
From under an umbrella
In the spring rain.

© Mitsuhashi Toshio 三橋敏雄, WKD
Tr. Blyth


Kinkaku-Ji - 金閣寺 "Temple of the Golden Pavilion"
officially named Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺, lit. "Deer Garden Temple"
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

The temple is famous for its ceiling of one huge board of camphor wood
ichimai tenjjoo 一枚天井.
During the reconstruction in 1955, it had to be replaced however by more than one board.

. Amulets from Kinkaku-Ji - 金閣寺 .
showing the four protecting animals


source : 忠ちゃんの写真集

aki furu ya kusu hachijoo no Kinkakuji

autumn is passing -
the camphor board of eight tatami-mat size
at temple Kinkaku-Ji  

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .  


mizu sumite Kinkaku no kin sashi ni keri

clear water (of autumn)
the gold of Golden Pavillion
shines so bright

Awano Seiho (Awano Seihoo) 阿波野青畝 あわのせいほう
Tr. Gabi Greve


source : facebook


Reference about "Higashiyama Culture"

Daruma Pilgrims in Japan

- #higashiyama -


Unknown said...

Gabi san も京都に詳しいから


Anonymous said...

spring day--
even after sunset
Eastern Mountains can be seen

haru no hi ya kurete mo miyuru higashi yama


by Issa, 1805

According to Sakuo Nakamura, Higashiyama ("Eastern Mountains") is the collective name for a number of mountains located between Kyoto and Lake Biwa: a total of 36 peaks, one of which is the temple mountain, Hieizan.
Shinji Ogawa assisted with this translation.

Tr. David Lanoue

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing
much love G.

Ella Wagemakers said...

Another place I haven't been to...

far away
another mountain to climb
... wind on Higashiyama

anonymous NEWS said...

What if Columbus had reached his goal: Japan?
“Cipangu,” Polo wrote, was “most fertile in gold, pearls and precious stones, and they cover the temples and royal residences with solid gold. People (there) have tremendous quantities of gold. The King’s palace is roofed with pure gold, and his floors are paved in gold two fingers thick.”
In 1473, as the war raged, Yoshimasa abdicated and turned to what he loved and knew best: art. Japan’s most characteristic art forms — tea-ceremony, noh drama, 31-syllable poetry, linked verse, flower-arranging, moon-viewing, monochrome painting, calligraphy, landscape gardening — all bear Yoshimasa’s stamp.

“No man in the history of Japan,” writes Keene, “had a greater influence on the formation of Japanese taste. The worst of the shoguns was … the only one to leave a lasting heritage for the entire Japanese people.”

The Higashiyama culture he spawned draws its name from the Higashiyama Hills of Kyoto, where in retirement he built a palace he named Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion). Starkly, almost startlingly austere, its name is misleading — not a description (there is no silver) but a mocking rejection of the golden opulence his grandfather Yoshimitsu embodied in the Kinkaku-ji.

Raised in luxury himself, accused by contemporary chroniclers of callous indifference to the suffering of the poor, Yoshimasa went on to fashion at Ginkaku-ji an artistic legacy that sought beauty in simplicity, fulfillment in poverty, happiness in sadness. The Japanese word that expresses these qualities is wabi — the spiritual peace of material renunciation.

What would Columbus have made of this — or Yoshimasa of Columbus, and of Europe’s rapacious avarice, insatiable curiosity and globe-girdling restlessness?


Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

tenzoo no niwa no kogiku ya ginkakuji

the small chrysanthemum flowers
in the garden of the temple cook -
Silver Pavillion

Tr. Gabi Greve

Gabi Greve said...

Hattori Ransetsu

futon kite netaru sugata ya Higashiyama

looking like a person
covered by a quilt -

Gabi Greve said...

kuichigai tenjoo くいちがい天井 kuichigai tenjo ceiling

made of wooden boards (sugi ceder) in the size and pattern of the tatami in the roof below, often for 4 or 6 tatami rooms.

Very seldom.
Still looking for a photo !

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Fudo Myo-O on the breast plate of the armour of Ashikaga Takauji

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Miyabi 雅 / みやび court elegance

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Ashikaga Takauji
at Tōji-in (等持院)
Reikō-den (霊光殿)
with the statue of
riun Jizo bosatsu, ri-un 利運地蔵菩薩
Jizo to win in battle
in Kyoto 臨済宗天龍寺派の禅刹等持院 Toji-In, Kyoto

Gabi Greve said...

Dookakuji 銅閣寺 Dokaku-Ji "Bronze Temple"
"Gionkaku" 祇園閣 - Temple Daiun-In 大雲院