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The white sand mounds in the foregarden of Honen-in Temple symbolize water and the seasons.
Honen-in Temple stands at the base of the Higashiyama range. Pass through the rustic gate with its thatched roof, and on the left and right you will encounter two rectangular mounds of sand. The edges are compacted with fine gravel, while designs representing waves, eddies, running water, flowers, leaves, and other seasonal elements are drawn on top with a rake. These mounds are called byakusa-dan, and they are meant to represent water. Worshippers pass through water on the way in, thereby purifying spirit and body. By taking a moment to be a fish swimming through the water, we might become inclined to be a little more gentle with nature. Even so, the shape and design always remind me of rakugan (a rice-flour confection).

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