Beyond Nanzen-ji’s temple

Past the temple’s aqueduct I climbed higher along the Kotoku-an trail where only two hikers ventured ahead of me. Although this was not a long hike, the sounds of tourists and buses were lost to the sound of running water.

Kotoku-an waterfall, Nanzen-ji, Kyoto
Kotoju-an penance waterfall

Where the path veered in a fork, I took the steps straight up to the Kotoku-an sub shrine where further steps led to a cave. Beside the cave, water dropped thirty metres below. This was where monks served a penance by standing under the pounding water.

Kotoku-an sub shrine, Nanzen-ji, Kyoto
Kotoku-an sub-shrine, Nanzen-ji, Kyoto

On my way down, I was rewarded by lone monk blowing a wind instrument I couldn’t recognize. The haunting sound reverberated within the glen. I waited while he blew a different sound before he respectfully placed the instrument down and chanted.

What a treat. This was the best experience of my Nanzen-ji temple visit.