the wind chills
Reikan-ji is a nunnery of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. It was established in 1654 for the tenth daughter of the retired Emperor Go-mizunoo, and she was named its founder. From the beginning it was a monzeki nunnery. It gets its name from a sacred mirror or reikan that it received from the ruins of an ancient temple which was further up the side of the mountain.
The monzeki (abbess-princess) tradition continued until the Meiji restoration. Many buildings were part of an imperial palace which was located here before the temple was built, but the main hall (Hondo) is more recent: it was built in 1803. The garden in front of the main hall is typical of the Edo period with moss and a few standing stones. The depression was originally filled with water flowing from the mountain but is now dry. Inside the temple is a small collection of Japanese dolls.
This temple and gardens are only open the first two weeks of April and last two weeks of November. Located just above The Philosopher Path, it is famous for its camellias, which bloom in early April. In the fall, it is wonderful to walk the grounds with the many red maples. I was shown one maple that is over three hundred and fifty years old.