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Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto: A Guide to Kyoto's Most Important Sites Hardcover – October 10, 2017

4.9 out of 5 stars 62 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"For those who are new to Zen, this is a perfect guide to Kyoto's wealth of gardens and temples. And even for a Japanese Zen priest like myself, it offers a different and new way of appreciating Zen in the city. This is highly recommended for those who want to go deeper into the Zen world." —Reverend Daiko Matsuyama, Taizo-in Temple, Kyoto

"Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto is a feast, whose authors, both connoisseurs of Kyoto's spiritual culture, bring Kyoto's deep Zen heart vividly to life. Einarsen's luminous, intimate photographs and Dougill's concise and penetrating historical perspective combine to create a sublime, grounded, indispensable volume. Whether you love Zen, Asian beauty, or Kyoto, this is a book to treasure, a book you must own." —Grace Jill Shireson, Zen priest and author of Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters

"Whether for general reference or as a travel companion when visiting a garden, this beautiful book helps orient our attention to the values, symbols, and teachings of Zen. The harmony of insightful commentary and stunning photos brings to life the histories and aesthetics of Kyoto's rich Zen Buddhist heritage." —John Nelson, Professor of East Asian Religions, University of San Francisco

"To endeavor writing a book on Zen gardens and temples in Kyoto must be daunting! John Dougill stepped up to the task and put out an exquisite book. His eloquent text coupled with John Einarsen's timeless photos capture the essence of actually 'being there.' Both novice and expert will find this book a pleasure to read." —Randy Channell Soei, Urasenke tea master and Kyoto Ambassador of Hospitality

"This book will cause the reader to ponder as to whether it is a superb photography book or a book of unique writings with photographs. Indeed, it is both. John Einarsen's photos, taken over many years, amply illustrate the refined technique and designs of Zen, while John Dougill's writings, inclusive of the stories behind the temples, show them not simply as "holy cloisters" where celibate monks lived, but include the thinking that went into their building as well. This book is a must for those interested in the aesthetic as well as the human aspects of Zen in this remarkable city." —Daitsu Tom Wright, Soto Zen Buddhist priest and author of Samadhi on Zen Gardens

"This splendid book results from the combined efforts of a superb photographer and a knowledgeable writer. For those who cannot visit the actual temples, the stunning pictures and informative text offer a good sense of what a visit might be like. For those fortunate ones who have a chance to visit Kyoto, it offers valuable insights that will help them better understand what they see. Anyone interested in Japanese culture will enjoy this book." —Robert Borgen, Professor Emeritus, Japanese Religions, University of California Davis

"The words and images herein do not necessarily serve to suggest physical destinations or metaphysical assumptions; rather, they reflect an ancient, accidental, and inarticulate wisdom passed down through human consciousness which flows like a river of unknown origin." —Preston Keido Houser, Shakuhachi maestro

"This is a work that should be sampled slowly, in portions, like consuming a number of small dishes for their nutritional value. The authors provide us with a selection and analysis of some of the most prestigious Zen temples, monasteries and abbots' quarters in the city, as well as the gardens that accompany them." —Stephen Mansfield, The Japan Times

About the Author

Author John Dougill is a professor at Ryukoku, Kyoto's largest Buddhist university. He has written many books about Japan including In Search of Japan's Hidden Christians, Japan's World Heritage Sites and Kyoto: A Cultural History. In addition to running the Green Shinto blog, he is the associate editor of Japanese Religions and founder of the "Writers in Kyoto" group. He lives in Kyoto, plays chess and loves to wander the banks of the Kamogawa River.

Photographer John Einarsen is a photographer, designer, curator and founding editor of Kyoto Journal, an international magazine on Japanese and Asian culture established in 1987. His photographs have been published in Kyoto: The Forest Within the Gate and Small Buildings of Kyoto. From 2013-2015 he served as an advisor to the Japan Times and in 2013 received the Commissioner's Award of the Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency. He lives near Kyoto's Nanzenji temple.

Foreword writer Rev. Takafumi Kawakami is deputy head priest of Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto, where he teaches Zen meditation classes in English to 5000 foreign visitors annually including groups from Harvard, Sloan and other schools. He co-hosts study abroad programs in Kyoto for students from Bryn Mawr, University of Oregon and other colleges and teaches Japanese hospitality and corporate wellness seminars. He has developed a mindfulness smartphone app called Myalo and supervises JINS MEME ZEN (a mindfulness program using a wearable computing device). His is the first Buddhist temple in Japan to publicly offer same-sex wedding ceremonies, and he has been a member of the U.S.-Japan Leadership Program of the U.S.-Japan Foundation, since 2008. His 2015 TED Talk "How mindfulness can help you to live in the present" has been viewed by over 100,000 people.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tuttle Publishing (October 10, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 144 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 480531401X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-4805314012
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.81 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7.08 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.9 out of 5 stars 62 ratings

Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5
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Top reviews from other countries

4.0 out of 5 stars A book more than a guide.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 3, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Standardwerk
Reviewed in Germany on July 11, 2018
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Thomas A. Regelski
4.0 out of 5 stars limited but satisfying
Reviewed in Germany on October 29, 2020
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Aaron Lavack
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for travel, and nice for home.
Reviewed in Canada on April 13, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lindo livro
Reviewed in Brazil on February 12, 2020
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