Photo/IllutrationBuddhist priest Denshu Yamazaki of Shodenji temple sits on "engawa" facing the “shakkei” (borrowed scenery) garden of the temple. (Photo by Ryo Kusumoto)

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KYOTO--Tributes to David Bowie have poured in at a place known more for its tranquility than the innovative sounds created by the music legend.

“I came to this temple, cherishing the memory of Bowie,” one visitor wrote in the guestbook at Shodenji temple in Kyoto’s Rakuhoku Nishi-kamo district.

Bowie had long been fascinated with Japan, especially Kyoto, and Japanese culture is believed to have had an influence on his artistic endeavors.

For example, the makeup Bowie wore for “Ziggy Stardust,” his fictional rock hero in the early 1970s, resembles the makeup worn by Kabuki actors.

But Shodenji temple may have had the biggest impact.

When visitors pass through a gate of the temple, they can see a gently sloping stepped approach that stretches to the main hall.

Scarlet-tinged fallen leaves wet with dew were stuck on the surface of the approach to the temple in late autumn.

Trimmed azalea bushes created round green islands in a sea of sand, gravel and stones that make up a “kare-sansui” Zen garden.

“People who want to spend their time in tranquility often visit this temple,” said Buddhist priest Denshu Yamazaki, 68. “It’s probably because the garden here radiates a feel of quietness.”

In 1980, Bowie created an instrumental piece titled “Crystal Japan” for a television commercial promoting “Jun,” a shochu produced by Takara Shuzo Co. He also appeared in the commercial.

“Filming the commercial footage at Shodenji temple was Bowie’s strong desire,” said Yoshiro Hosomi, 80, former chairman of Takara Holdings Inc., parent company of Takara Shuzo.

Wearing a white silk shirt, Bowie exuded his sensitive nature during the filming at the temple.

“His revolutionary and philosophical image brought about an innovation to the image of shochu. So I’m just grateful to him,” Hosomi said.

“Crystal Japan” is filled with crystal clear sorrows that seem to purify and cleanse the heart of the listener. The tune has a flavor of “gagaku” (court music of ancient Japan) but in Bowie’s style.

The instrumental also follows the tune of songs on his masterpiece album “Heroes” in 1977.

Bowie visited many other places in Kyoto, including the Tawaraya ryokan inn in Nakagyo Ward and the Furukawacho shopping street in Higashiyama Ward.

During an interview around 1980, Bowie said he visited Japan at least once a year and intended to buy a house in Kyoto.

Nearly a year after Bowie’s death on Jan. 10, 2016, at the age of 69, visitors are still writing messages about the musician in Shodenji temple’s guestbook near the “engawa” external corridor.

One comment simply says, “Crystal!”