Agon Shu Monastery Gardens

The Agon-shu is a Buddhist sect based on the Lord Buddha's teachings given in the Agon Sutras. The Sohonzan Sohonden Shakazan Daibodai-ji in the main temple of the sect and is set in the mountains surrounding Kyoto.

The monastery is one of the largest modern wooden structures in Japan, resplendent with its cedar columns and gold fitments on an imposing site near the mountain-top. It has extensive private gardens the start of which is some hundred steps below the courtyard.


It is mid November and some of the acers have already lost their leaves here high in the mountains, the remainder are showing spectacular colour. This is the pond at the bottom of the lower waterfall, which enters at the bottom right hand corner.


The lower waterfall cascades down the mountainside twisting and turning which much force. The mossy bank is covered with azaleas and acers set against a backdrop of a variety of red, black and white pines. The fall is fed via a spillway from the middle pond. This has an interesting pathway and dry landscape features beside the pond with a high bank of shrubs and rocks set against a backdrop of red pines.


This is a lovely shot of a formal corner of the garden showing the bobble cut cryptomarias (Japanese cedars) and manicured pines with rocks, stupa and lantern. The path moves across the bridge up the hill following the upper waterfall to the top garden complete with its Buddha sitting on a lotus leaf.

The picture is an excellent example of a dry waterfall arrangement with stone slab bridge, gravel watercourse and wonderful rocks cascading down the mountainside amidst the shrubs and rocks.

The visit took place late in the afternoon as the light was fading, with occasional glimpses of the sun from a generally brooding autumn sky.