In terms of climate, the first months of my stay during end of summer and fall in Japan were basically the same as in Florida and Puerto Rico. As it was hot, it made it easier for me adapt to Japanese life. What was different, however, was the transition of Fall. Fall in Japan is indeed full of colors. The transition of the trees seemed to be rather slow, but around October the landscape was just phenomenal. The trees took either a very intense red color, or an equally intense yellow one.
There was something about Japanese Fall that captivated my senses and made me ponder about my surroundings. Maybe it was the sense that one gets as the sun starts to set during the late evening, where its dark enough to have a certain obscure feeling, while fallen leaves are blown away from the winds. On the other hand, perhaps it was just the notion that I was actually living and studying abroad in Japan, as well as the fact I was witnessing a seasonal change that I had never experienced before.
It was during this period that I went to the first temples throughout Japan. By living in the cultural capital of the nation, temples were everywhere. One of the first ones I visited was Tojiin Temple. Such temple was the memorial place of the Ashikaga Shogunate, one of the first lines of Samurai Rulers in Japan. The best part of it all was that such an important temple was right next to my university. Even so, that at the beginning I actually thought it was part of university in itself. However, I later learned it didn’t connect and was separate.
What I liked about such temple was the aesthetic outlook to it and the tranquility that it gave off. Just as you entered the main grounds there was a big garden with a pond in the middle. Koi fish were seen swimming throughout the pond. One could also see little bridges of stone connecting various sections of the pond. However, these were restricted to guests. You could go around the pond and the different small islands that connected to it. At one point, there was stone path that led uphill to some small houses. These houses were for tea drinking and performing tea ceremony, but were also restricted in access. More so, as you continued throughout the trail, there were different statues, some of the founders of the temple, and even a small pagoda. In addition, the temple also had a Zen garden and a hall with statues of all the rulers of the Ashikaga Samurai. At the end of the hall, the dedicated Buddha to that temple laid, where you could see visitors pray to it.
Furthermore, what I liked about this temple the most was the fact that it had an area where we could sit and appreciate the scenery of the pond. You could see visitors bringing tea and enjoying it as they admired the surroundings while talking to their friends and partners, or others alone pondering. I used to often go to this temple and just sit there in a contemplative mood. I even got into the habit of visiting the temple and practicing Japanese symbols whenever there was a big test coming up. All in all, by studying these symbols for a Japanese test in such scenery made me think that there wasn’t anything more Japanese like it.