Uji is a river town southeast of Kyoto that grew up as a country villa location for the aristocrats of the capital. It is surrounded by mountains with a fine river running through the center, the setting of 10 chapters of the “Tale of the Genjii”, considered the world’s first novel.
The foremost World Heritage Site in Uji is Byodin Temple. This was originally a country villa that was converted into a Buddhist Temple in 1052. The main hall, Amithabha Hall, is designed after the phoenix. If viewed from above, there is a tail and two wings. The central hall features beautiful wooden carvings of 52 bodhisattvas floating on clouds surrounding the seated Amida, in a variety of worshiping postures and activities. The wood sculptures are exquisite and I wish that could share photos with you; alas, a very strict no photography rule is in effect at Byodin. This is a very special place with a huge amount of spirit.
One thing that I have noticed is that the Japanese maples are already turning red in mid-August; a sign of global warming?