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Kyoto Temples with Corridors

Beautiful outside corridors of Omuro Palace (Photo: Tomoko Kamishima)

About topic

Japan's Heian Period (794-1185) was an age of aristocracy. Their refined taste found its way into the design of temple buildings and gardens. The buildings often had no walls, but instead latticed shutters or sliding doors all around. When the shutters or doors were completely opened, the inside of the rooms became a part of the outside world. Outside roofed corridors connecting each building were also a place where they could touch nature, enjoy the gardens, and breathe and feel fresh air, yet be protected from rain, snow and strong sunshine. Noblemen really enjoyed the seasonal change of the gardens, and the comfortable touch of the wood of these impressive outside corridors.

The temples covered in this series (by Tomoko Kamishima) were all established in the Heian Period, and are admired for the arrangement of their beautiful corridors:

Eikan-do Temple (established in 853): Excursion through a collection of vertical corridors, leading up to higher levels

Daikaku-ji Temple (established in 876): Excursion through a labyrinth of long horizontal corridors

Ninna-ji Temple (established in 888): Zigzag corridors connecting sand and pond gardens

Shoren-in Temple (established in 1150): Horseshoe corridors facing three gardens

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