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Renge-ji temple is a small out- of -the- way Buddhist temple in Kyoto that has resonated in my memory for several years.


In typical Japanese fashion, the garden doesn’t appear to the viewer immediately. The simple unassuming entrance reveals nothing until you turn and enter into the quintessential “room with a view.” Here is a garden that asks nothing more of the viewer than to sit down and open your pores to the scene before you.

sugar egg

For me, viewing this garden is similar to the feeling I’d get as a child when looking into a snow scene in a glass ball , or peeping inside the magic world  hidden inside a fanciful sugar Easter egg.

snow globe

It was raining on my first visit here.  The sight and sounds of the rain falling on the pond were mesmerizing.  I could feel the earth breathing with me.

On my second visit, it was autumn, under a crystal blue sky.  The Japanese maples set the vista aflame with color, reflected brilliantly in the pond water.

fall 2 at rengenji fall at reen-ji

On my most recent visit, nature was not showing off, at least not at first glimpse. Now, the young maple leaves spread a chartreuse green swath across the garden.

tree and temple

Although beautiful, the garden didn’t have the same punch for me as it had on earlier visits. I felt mildly disappointed. Then, I was disappointed that I was disappointed. I sat with that disappointment and allowed myself to take in the garden as it was NOW.  I watched my disappointment gradually dissipate.


All pice from Renge-ji temple garden

thinking reflections temple testure

When I lit a stick of incense within the temple, a profound sense of calm had replaced my earlier unease.


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Manel Ratnayaka says:

    Dianne, you are meditating, I know you understand it! Shanta could not take pain medicine or I did not allow it,m as his pressure would go down, and he overcame the pain by meditating. He tried explaining it to me saying he was differentiating his body from pain, which I did’nt and don’t understand! Your comment on how you overcame the sadness at the temple brought that memory to me!
    Shanta always said that Buddhism is not a religion but a philosophy of life and how to live it!

    • devapnek says:

      Thanks for the comment, Manel. I think I might have taken a small baby step with that experience. Shanta was always trying to show us the way, wasn’t he? xoxo

  • Dolores Davies says:

    Diane: I’ve been visiting Japan regularly for almost 20 years. I remember how glorious this garden is in the fall. I adore Kyoto and we will be there soon. I would love to meet you when we are there. Richard and I are total Japanophiles. We are old friends of Lorie and Michael Porter.

    • devapnek says:

      Dolores, We are no longer in Japan, but will return in late June/ july. Sorry to miss you. I know who you are! We Japanophiles are linked. Have a great trip and thanks for reading my blog.