The Tōfukuji zen temple

The Tōfukuji (東 福寺, Tōfukuji) is a zen temple in southeastern Kyoto. Its pavilions are surrounded by a huge green area, it is beautiful all over the year but the best time to see this temple is a the time of the kouyou (End of november) . Tōfukuji is one of the most important Zen temples in Kyoto.

The Sanmon style door of the Tōfukuji is 22 meters high and is the oldest Japanese zen gate (since 1425 without having been rebuilt). The sanmon style doors (三門) are not in all Zen temples, only in the larger ones. The San 三 (Three) before the 門 (Gate) indicates that it is composed of three entrances. Each of the entries also has a name, the one on the left is the kūmon (空門 vacuum door), the middle one is the musōmon (無相門 the door without form) and the one on the right is the muganmon (無願門 DO NOT ask for wishes).


This is the sanmon gate at Tōfukuji which is declared as a National Treasure

The set of these three doors: the one of the void, the formless one and the one of not requesting desires; symbolize the three places by which purification must be achieved before enlightenment. Passing through them helps to free you from: greed, hatred and ignorance. That’s why they are also called sangedatsumon (三解脱門 the door of the three releases).

Apart from the sanmon gate, the most beautiful of the Tōfukuji are the gardens. There are several, each with a style, some with large rocks and moss that adorns them, others full of vegetation and several dry with gravel and stones. All of them were designed by Mirei Shigemori . One of the most beautiful gardens inside Tōfukuji is the Kaizandō, which is hidden across the bridge Tsutenkyo. A bridge with a wooden roof that is 100 meters long and crosses a stream that will lead to the kamogawa.


This is the Tsutenkyo bridge, the name of this bridge translated is: “The Bridge to cross the sky”


Views from the bridge

Kaizandō is a dry garden similar to the Ryoanji but it is not symmetrical, an area of the gravel rectangle is occupied by hedges and rocks. What I like the most compared to the Ryoanji is that behind the gravel you don’t see a simple wall, there is a big Japanese style garden with pines covering the landscape. Another of the differences is the way they drag it, in the Kaizandō they do it in a way that squares of several different shades are drawn on its surface.

Tofukuji location on google maps.

From Kyoto Station, with the JR Nara line, it takes two minutes to reach Tofukuji Station.

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

I’m very happy to announce you that my new book has just been published in English. It is very different from A Geek in Japan, instead of trying to explain all about Japan in this new book I focus on just one aspect more deeply.

It all started when I explained my friend Francesc Miralles about the Japanese word Ikigai and we decided to write a book together. Ikigai in Japanese means “a reason for being”, you can also think of it as that thing in your life that gets you up in the morning. In the book we go deep in what it means to have a life of meaning and how it can help us to live happier and longer.

Thank you 🤗 all for reading and supporting A Geek in Japan all these years, without you this new book would have never been posible.

Available on Amazon.com since two days ago, order it now : Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

If you want to keep updated and know more about my new book IKIGAI this are the channels that I will use from now on:

Available on Amazon.com since two days ago, order it now : Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life (Amazon.com).

Ryoanji – 龍安寺

Over the last 14 years I’ve visited the zen garden Ryoanji (龍安寺) several times. I love that every time I visit this beautiful dry garden (karesan-sui) it feels different. It is like watching the same movie while noticing that you are growing old, and each time you notice and feel different details.

The first time visiting Ryoanji I was twenty three years old and I had just finished graduating from computer science. At that time, my rationalistic approach to engineering made me try to explain the beauty of this place in a scientific way. I even wrote a long post about it in my Spanish blog explaining how you could mathematically divide the geometry of the garden by analyzing the empty space between the rocks.

I learned that the important thing are not the rocks but the space between them, but I was a fool thinking that we can explain beauty following a scientific approach. I think I fabricated all the mathematical explanation just to feel comfortable with the fact that an art piece so simple as rocks placed on gravel is of such beauty and importance for the Japanese people.

This time I visited the place with different eyes and heart. I just sat down and enjoyed the scenery without wondering why it is so beautiful and trying to explain it. Now, I’m 36 years old and I grasp the fact that art is never complete without taking into account the subject observing it.

It is my consciousness, through the act of observing the dry garden, who makes the place beautiful and unique.

Is not enough to explain the garden in order to understand its beauty, you have to know yourself.