The calligraphy at Komyo-in Temple


Komyo-in Temple, a sub-temple of Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto, is part of the Alternative Fushimi Inari Walking Tour. Here are some of the calligraphic scrolls hanging in the rooms there.

Where the clouds do not live

無雲生嶺上 有月落波心
雲の嶺上に 生ずる無し
Kumonoreijouni Shouzurunashi

“On the mountaintops where the clouds do not live is the moon and the wave of your heart”
The clouds in this 1000-year-old poem refer to the illusions of the mind.

These words were first written at least 955 years ago by a Reverend Suigan Kashin. Very little is known about his life. The words cannot be transliterated directly into modern Japanese, hence the long and clunky rephrase. It’s easily read in modern Mandarin Chinese though: wú yún shēng lǐng shàng yǒu yuè luò bō xīn.

The last two characters in this poem, 波心 Hasshin, are what the garden outside are named after. It’s therefore the Garden of the Wave of the Heart, Hasshin-no-niwa.


Korekounichi (also pronounced Korekoujitsu)

"It's a good day"

Unmon Bunen, or Yunmen Wenyan, a Zen master who lived over 1,100 years ago in Tang Dynasty China, came up with Korekounichi. It means “Everyday is a good day, as long as you think it is”.

Kei Un Kou

Traditionally translated as “The Celebratory Clouds Arise”, Kei Un Kou is usually interpreted as a celebratory phrase to welcome the joys of a new year. However, given that the clouds in the main scroll of the temple refer to the illusions of the mind, Kei Un Kou here probably refers to the happiness one experiences when ones realizes that what has been going on in one’s head were but mere illusions.

Zui Setsu

“Peak Snow”
In Japanese Zui Setsu refers to a good amount of snow that precedes a bountiful harvest ahead when the snow melts at the end of winter, because the original phrase in Chinese was 瑞雪兆豊年, or “A Bountiful Year After Peak Snow”. Again these two words might have a different meaning because they are here in a zen temple. Perhaps the snow (representing hardship and perseverance) is supposed to precede realization (the harvest)?

Shitsukan (nishite) Chami Sugashi

“The taste of tea is born of the quietness of a tearoom”
Or… “Clear perception arises from the quietness of a tearoom”