Sanmon, Chion-in

A sanmon is the most important gate for a Japanese Buddhist temple, and is part of the five to seven halls which form the core of these temples. The role it fulfills is largely symbolic (there are neither fences nor doors), and is meant to cleanse and prepare pilgrims who step through the gate to …

To All Gods

The Pantheon is one of the best preserved Ancient Roman building. Originally built for political purposes, it is now a church that also houses the tombs of painter Raphael as well as two Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I. The dome of the Pantheon contains an oculus, one of two light sources of …

Omikuji Tree

Omikuji are fortunes written on strips of paper at shrines and temples in Japan. Bad fortunes are folded up and attached to a tree or wires on the shrine grounds. In Hei-an Shrine, they are fashioned into shrubs, becoming mini omikuji trees.

Lake and Sky

The Shobi-Kan Teahouse in the east garden (Higashi Shin’en) at Heian Shrine. There was a music festival of some sort when I visited in 2010. The whole experience, with the sky reflected at your feet, is simply sublime.

Wish You Were Here

The Japanese believe in preserving nature’s fragile and precious areas by setting them as places of worship. These forests are then known as chinju-no-mori, the forests where the gods dwell. Meiji Jingu lies in the heart of Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya. Here, one will find heartfelt wishes written on wooden amulets (ema), surrounding the base of …