It happens sometimes where you enter a place so beautiful and peaceful, that you’ll find it hard to describe it in words. For me, that place was Gokuraku-jodo Garden, a hidden magical Japanese garden at Shitennoji Temple—Gokuraku-jodo Garden (極楽浄土の庭).
A Japanese Garden that you can Easily Miss
I won’t be here telling you this if I hadn’t tried to investigate every corner around Shitennoji Temple. After I finished enjoying the old temples and the beautiful Gojunoto 5-stories pagoda, I was passing alongside Kameido and Kyakudengenkan Buddhist temples and I noticed an entrance to my right.
I was about heading out of Shitennoji Temple area but I”ve decided to investigate. I was a Japanese lady there and a stand. She told me that it’s a Japanese garden. I was excited, paid for the ticket. The price was if I am not mistaken, around 300 Yen, not 100% sure.
This visit to Gokuraku-jodo Japanese Garden was totally unintentional. BTW, all the pictures in this post were taken using my iPhone 5S smartphone.
Japanese Garden from a Fairy Tale
Shittenoji Temple by itself is an amazing place. A gorgeous place in the middle of the city. Now that garden, for me, was the crème de la crème of my visit to Shittenoji Temple.
I entered inside and I was shocked. There are some places, so tranquil and picturesque, that you think that such sights don’t exist. Places that seem like a perfect Japanese travel postcard.
At the entrance, a small and inviting waterfall. At the right, a beautiful narrow path alongside a pond with cherry blossom trees alongside it. In the center, a little stone bench, just under the gorgeous angled cherry blossom tree. In full bloom, those cherry blossom trees are a treat to watch (aka Hanami, Cherry Blossom viewing).
On the right, there was a beautiful large Japanese house. It has dark stones and blossom leaves stroke it lengthwise. I was breathless, shocked by the natural beauty in front of me.
Learning to Enjoy the “Here and Now”
In the meantime, I continued to walk towards the inner area of the Gokuraku-jodo Garden. This Japanese garden isn’t large, nonetheless, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up in its sheer beauty.
There is something very intimate walking in a small garden like this. I was almost on my own. It felt so peaceful and relaxing. It made me questions things from the past and better comprehend the slogan “Enjoy the moment”.
I was always told that the place doesn’t matter, it’s all inside. But once I was there, I felt that being connected with a calm natural place, for me, was essential. Being in a place that gives me a good nurturing ground to inner-connect helps a lot. I felt so peaceful like I haven’t felt in my entire life. All I needed to do is just walk through those “magical” paths of this amazing garden and breath. No words, no lectures, no tips from others, just walking, watching, listening and breathing—I was in heaven.
More Beautiful View Lie Within
Straight ahead, more beautiful views await. In the distance, I saw a little wooden bench under the tree; went and sat there for a few minutes, took a drink from my bag and drank a little. I breathed and observe the beautiful tree leaves, listened to the calmness of the water and wondering about the amazing thing that is called life. Wondering how lucky I am to be able to be here and experience it. or am I?
Moreover, we rush through so many things in life that we don’t even give us enough time to learn to appreciate the beauty of the world around us. Like we are waiting for a time in the future for that to happen. No, the time is right here right now, thus, “Now” is all we have.
What I love in Japan, that in all the bustling city life, you have those “little escape heavens” that you can visit and relax. The difference is so contrasting, but because of that, it allows a break from the daily rush.
A Girl on the Bridge
Indeed, It’s amazing how this little Gokuraku-jodo Garden affected me. By way of example, I didn’t expect such a small place to have such a strong emotional impact on me and being able to see so many beautiful sights. I continued to move on…
I was moving on towards the far part of the garden. Afterward, I saw a Japanese girl wearing a kimono (traditional Japanese clothing) passing the beautiful little bridge. It was such a picturesque view. I wish I had a better camera to take a photo of that. However, as the popular quote says: “The best camera is the one you have with you”. Indeed, without it, I won’t be able to take that photo and share it with you—lesson learned.
A Must Visit Japanese Garden at Shitennoji Temple
Speaking about Japanese culture, I was injected with a big dose of it while I was there. In fact, there are many other much bigger gardens out there. It doesn’t matter how many of them you visit, the next one will look surely look different.
Some might say, you see once you’ve seen it all. Well, of course not. To enumerate, every Japanese garden not just gives you different unique views but takes you on an emotional ride if you allowed yourself to. Hence, it’s not just the views, but, the entire spiritual experience.
I allow myself to do it, this is why every time I go to a place, and it can even be the same place, I experience something else. In other words, part of the attraction of those places is that they allow you to inner-connect and experience them on a higher level of self-conscious. If you are there just to take pictures and go out, you are missing something big.
Now you know the name of the place and its location. The next time you visit Shitennoji Temple, don’t forget to check out this beautiful Japanese garden—it’s worth it! I can’t wait to visit it in Autumn this year.
Overall, a magnificent traditional Japanese garden. A hidden gem I must say. I think it’s also accessible for people with a wheelchair, but please do ask beforehand.
Thanks for reading.