I am invited to go to Guncan-Gima, the site of a Zen Buddhist temple. When I get there, I am surprised to see that the extraordinarily beautiful building, which is situated in the middle of a vast forest, is right next to a huge piece of waste ground.
I ask what the waste ground is for and the man in charge explains (I can’t verify if it is true, but it must be):
‘That is where we will build the next temple.
‘Every twenty years, we destroy the temple you see before you now and rebuild it again on the site next to it.
‘This means that the monks who have trained as carpenters, stonemasons and architects are always using their practical skills and passing them on to their apprentices.
‘ It also shows them that nothing in this life is eternal and that even temples are in need of constant improvement.’