Our only full day in Kyoto was packed full of activities. We began with a lecture from Professor Robert Rhodes of Otani University. After his lecture, we went spent some time with students from the university, then went out to lunch. It was after lunch that we had several activities I would put at the very top of my list of favorites so far on this trip.
Immediately following lunch, we walked to the Ginkakuji Temple. Ginkakuji Temple is a Zen Buddhist temple that was established in 1482. Ginkaku is simply the common name for it, and the full name is Higashiyama Jishoji. The temples grounds were covered in plant life, with large trees and huge bamboo shoots growing amongst moss lawns and dense shrubbery, many of which grow on the banks of small ponds. The space not taken up by buildings and plants is used for sand gardens, which are elegantly raked into intricate designs. The entire temple was fascinating, and probably my favorite temple we’ve visited so far.
After the sightseeing at Ginkakuji, we went back to academia, this time to Kyoto University to talk with the philosophy department there on the philosophy of Japanese ethics. I found this to be one of the most engaging discussion-lectures I have been to in a long while. I was fascinated by the insight provided by both Professor Yasuo Deguchi, the man in charge of the lecture, as well as the graduate students there, who were also helping to facilitate the discussion. After a rousing talk on the ideas of the Kyoto school, one of the first philosophical schools in Japan, and their opinions on creating a system of ethics, we all went out for a wonderful dinner. All in all it was a fantastic day.