Eastern Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji – Temple of the Silver Pavilion

    A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-90), eighth shogun of the Muromachi government, emulated Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) built by his grandfather, and created Higashiyama-dono, later remodeled into the Silver Pavilion temple. The Goddess of Mercy Hall, known as Ginkaku or the Silver Pavilion, was lacquered on the outside, but whether silver leaf was intended to be put over that is not known. Another building on the premises is Togudo, which served as Yoshimasa's study.
    It is the oldest extant example of a tatami mat writing alcove and of staggered shelves, and is a valuable cultural property demonstrating what later came to be known as the shoin-zukuri architecture. Togudo is also a valuable property as an example of a tea room. Its simple form raised awareness of the aesthetic concept of wabi-sabi, which encompasses imperfection and austerity, and is a symbol of the Higashiyama culture. The garden has a pond with a path around it in the chisen kaiyu design style advocated by Yoshimasa.
    Although the feel of the Muromachi era permeates the garden, the white sand built into the shape of Mount Fuji (a kogetsudai) and the ginsha-dan or silver wave pattern employed give a distinctly modern aesthetic despite the Edo period construction. The contrast between the old style and the seeming new style is a point of great interest.

    Open hours:
    8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from December through February)
    Admission:
    Adults: 500 yen
    Elementary and junior high school students: 300 yen
    Address:
    2 Ginkaku-ji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-771-5725
    Access:
    • • Take Kyoto city bus 5/17/32/100/102/203/204 to the Ginkaku-ji-michi bus stop. It is a 10-minute walk.
    • • Take Kyoto Bus 18/56 to the Ginkaku-ji-michi bus stop. It is a 10-minute walk.
  • Honen-in Temple

    This old temple is located in a tranquil setting next to a promenade known as the Philosopher's Walk which was created aside a canal. At the suggestion of the 38th Banbuosho of Chion-in Temple, the base of the current temple was built as a place to chant prayers because the location was affiliated with Honen in 1680.
    When you climb the stone-paved approach, the thatched San-mon Gate greets you with mountain village charm. Inside the compound, there are many graves of literary people and scholars who loved the quiet elegance of the temple. In early spring, a wide variety of camellias, including the goshiki-chiri (falling in five colors) camellia, come into bloom so that the temple is sometimes called Camellia Temple. In fall, many people who know Kyoto well come to see the leaves that have fallen on the roof of the simple San-mon Gate.
    On both sides of the approach, neat white sand mounds which represent water are said to signify the purification of the hearts and bodies of passersby. Various patterns and writing—perhaps made by people of the temple when in a playful mood—can be found on the mounds that change from time to time or even daily.
    Although there are many tourists pushing to get in during the camellia and fall seasons, at other times, Honen-in Temple is a little-noticed spot great for spending some quiet time listening to what your heart has to say. The inside of the temple is not open to the public normally, but twice a year, from April 1 to 7 and from November 1 to 7, the general public is welcome to enter.

    Honen-in Temple
    Open hours:
    6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    Admission:
    No admission fee
    (a special admission fee applies to the inside of the temple when open to the public)
    Address:
    30 Shikagatani Gosho Dan-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-771-2420
    Access:
    • • Take Kyoto city bus 5/17/203/204 to the Jodo-ji bus stop. It is a 10-minute walk.
    • • Take Kyoto city bus 32 to the Minamida-cho bus stop. It is a five-minute walk.
  • Heian Jingu Shrine

    Heian Jingu Shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of the Heian capital in Kyoto. The attractive main building is a reproduction of the Outer Palace Precincts of the Heian capital and Oten-mon Gate on an eight-to-five scale, and gives a realistic feel for the size of the capital at the time. Heian Shrine is also known as the location for Jidai Matsuri, one of the three great festivals of Kyoto.
    The festival procession recreates Kyoto's history with elegance, the participants dressing themselves in beautiful clothing from the past. A great vermilion-colored torii gate is the symbol of the shrine. A vast sacred garden surrounds the main building and provides a variety of plants and trees for visitors to enjoy through the seasons. It is said that the beautiful garden was used for garden parties, a feature truly representative of the imperial world in the Heian Period.

    Heian Shrine
    Open hours:
    6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Shin'en: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
    Please note that the schedule is subject to change according to season.
    Admission:
    There is no admission charge to the grounds.
    Shin'en:
    Adults: 600 yen
    Elementary school students: 300 yen
    Address:
    97 Okazaki Nishitenno-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-761-0221
    Access:
    • • Take Keihan Electric Railway to Jingu-Marutamachi Station. It is a 15-minute walk.
    • • Take the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line to Higashiyama Station. It is a 10-minute walk.
  • Eikan-do Temple

    The tree colors of autumn are so prominent here, Eikan-do Temple has been synonymous with autumn leaf viewing since days of yore. There are some three thousand maples on the grounds, which are lit up at night during the autumn viewing season. The main Buddha image is the "Amida Looking Back," with the neck rotated to the left.
    An unusual depiction capturing a moment of Amida, this is counted as one of the six great Amida Buddhas of Kyoto. The temple grounds are on a mountain slope, and one never tires of walking around the extensive area or going up and down the corridors. Even in years when the fall leaves do not reach their full potential, the trees here are praised for their remarkable beauty.

    Eikan-do Temple
    Open hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Admission ends at 4 p.m.
    Admission:
    Adults: 600 yen
    Elementary to high school students: 400 yen
    Address:
    48 Eikan-do-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-761-0007
    Access:
    Take the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line to Keage Station. It is a 15-minute walk.
  • Nanzen-ji Temple

    Nanzen-ji Temple is the top-ranking Zen temple in Kyoto. San-mon Gate, a substantial structure rising 22 meters can be climbed to look out over the city of Kyoto. In the kabuki production "San-mon Gosan no Kiri" (The Golden Gate and the Paulownia Crest), Ishikawa Goemon climbs the gate and says, "A magnificent view! A magnificent view!" This scene is well-known to Japanese people.
    Outside the abbot's chamber, a National Treasure, there is a dry landscape garden that portrays the scene of a mother and child tiger crossing a river. Inside the chamber are more than 130 exceptional fusuma paintings in the Kano tradition, a truly impressive collection. In 1890, a navigable aqueduct was completed for carrying water from Lake Biwa in Shiga to Kyoto. It passes through the compound of Nanzen-ji Temple and continues to supply water to this day.
    At the time of the construction, there were many who said that Western structures were inappropriate on the temple grounds as they did not match the scenery. Today, however, the old-fashioned red brick arch creates a unique atmosphere and is used in many films, and it has become representative of the scenery in Kyoto. Just outside the gate to the temple is Okutan, a shop serving yudofu, a hot tofu dish with broth. It is also one of the famous features of Kyoto and well worth stopping in.

    Nanzen-ji Temple
    Open hours:
    8:40 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (until 4:30 from December through February)
    Admission ends 20 minutes before closing time.
    Closed from December 28 to 31.
    Admission:
    There is no admission charge to the grounds.
    Hojo Teien (Garden of the Abbot's Hall) and for San-mon Gate:
    Adults: 500 yen
    High school students: 400 yen
    Elementary and junior high school students: 300 yen
    Nanzen-in:
    Adults: 300 yen
    High school students: 250 yen
    Elementary and junior high school students: 150 yen
    Address:
    Nanzen-ji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-771-0365
    Access:
    Take the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line to Keage Station. It is a 10-minute walk.
  • Chion-in Temple

    Chion-in Temple is the first location where chanting "Namu Amida Butsu," the name of Amitabha, was taught by the monk Honen as a way anyone could be saved. After the temple became a family temple for the shogun in the Edo period, massive structures were built one after the other. Among these is San-mon Gate, a National Treasure. Boasting a height of 24 meters and a width of 50 meters, the gate is the largest two-story wooden gate extant today.
    Also, weighing 70 tons and forged in 1678, the copper bell there is one of the three great Buddhist bells of Japan. On New Year's Eve, 17 monks and priests can be seen ringing the bell as they yell out, an event that is carried on television and has become associated with the passing of the year.

    Chion-in Temple
    Open hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
    Admission:
    There is no admission charge to the grounds.
    Yuzen'en Garden:
    Adults: 300 yen
    Elementary and junior high students: 150 yen
    Hojo Gaden:
    High school students and older: 400 yen
    Elementary and junior high school students: 250 yen
    Address:
    400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-531-2111
    Access:
    • • Take Keihan Electric Railway to Gion-Shijo Station. It is a 10-minute walk.
    • • Take the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line to Higashiyama Station. It is an eight-minute walk.
  • Yasaka Shrine

    According to tradition, Yasaka Shrine was built in the year 656, about 150 years before Kyoto became Japan's capital. Gion Festival, one of the three great festivals of Japan, originated in the year 869 when an epidemic spread. Sixty-six halberds were erected on the grounds of Yasaka Shrine and portable shrines were taken out and paraded to pray for an end of the disease. Utsukushi Gozen-sha Shrine, famous for its goddess of beauty, is situated in the eastern portion of the shrine compound. Geisha and maiko (geisha-in-training) come from Gion to pray to the goddess for financial prosperity, talent and beauty. Shijo-dori, the main street of Kyoto, comes to an end at beautiful Nishiro-mon Gate, a towering brightly vermilion-painted gate that is a popular place for taking pictures. Constructed with a unique feature where two structures share one roof, the main building has an endless stream of people every day praying with great dedication. Holy spring water flows in front of Utsukushi Gozen-sha Shrine. Excellent for healthy skin, visitors joyously use the water as a beauty treatment.

    Yasaka Shrine
    Open hours:
    The grounds are always open
    Admission:
    There is no admission charge to the grounds.
    Address:
    625 Gion-machi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-561-6155
    Access:
    • • Take Keihan Electric Railway to Gion-Shijo Station. It is a five-minute walk.
    • • Take Hankyu Railway to Kawaramachi Station. It is an eight-minute walk.
  • Kodai-ji Temple

    Constructed by Nene (also known as Kita no Mandokoro), wife of the Warring State general Hideyoshi Toyotomi who unified Japan, to pray for Toyotomi's bliss in the afterworld, Kodai-ji Temple gets its name from Nene's posthumous Buddhist name Kodai-in. Despite several occurrences of fires, many of the original structures remain standing. The mausoleum enshrining Toyotomi and Nene is decorated luxuriously. The interior makie craftsmanship (gold and silver lacquer adornment) in particular is resplendent and referred to as Kodai-ji makie.
    The tearoom, moved from Fushimi Castle where tea ceremony devotee Toyotomi lived, is also worth seeing. The chisen kaiyu garden with a pond and a walking path has trees planted to surround the pond. During the cherry blossom season and in the fall, the area is lit up, creating a fantastic atmosphere, particularly in autumn when the bright colors of leaves reflect in the pond and create a fantastic atmosphere. The vermilion-colored leaves beyond the window are so vivid, they look like a painting.

    Kodai-ji Temple
    Open hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
    Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
    Admission:
    Adults: 600 yen
    Junior high and high school students: 250 yen
    Address:
    526 Kodai-ji Shimokawara-cho , Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-561-9966
    Access:
    Take Keihan Electric Railway to Gion-Shijo Station. It is a 15-minute walk.
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple

    A UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main Buddha image is an eleven-faced, thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy. After Sakanoue no Tamuramaro came to the area to hunt deer, a monk admonished him against the taking of life. In response, Sakanoue built the thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy statue and work on the hall was begun. The main building, generally referred to as the "Kiyomizu stage," was rebuilt in 1633. Selected along with the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower of France as the sole finalist from Japan in an initiative by a Swiss foundation as candidates for the "New 7 Wonders of the World," Kiyomizu-dera Temple received an award.
    Rising 13 meters, the Kiyomizu-dera stage was built of wood without the use of a single nail. In Japan, the expression "jump off the stage of Kiyomizu" is equivalent to the English "take the plunge" when doing something with absolute resolve. And according to records kept since 1694, there have been 234 people who have "taken the plunge" from the stage with a survival rate of 85%. In 1872, the government issued an order prohibiting further jumps. In the back of the main buildings is a shrine to the tutelary deity, known as a place where marriage matches are formed.
    A pair of "love fortune-teller stones" are said to give people their wishes if they pray with their eyes closed while crossing from one stone to the other. Also, near the Nio (Deva) Gate is a statue of Jizo (Ksitigarbha) with his head turned. It is said that if you make your wish while turning its head in that direction, it will come true.

    Kiyomizu-dera Temple
    Open hours:
    The opening and closing times for Kiyomizu-dera Temple vary throughout the year. When there are special openings at night, the gates close for a short time and open again.
    See here for more details:
    http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/en/location/#OpenHours
    Admission:
    High school students and older: 400 yen
    Junior high school students and younger: 200 yen
    Address:
    1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-551-1234
    Access:
    Take Keihan Electric Railway to Gojo Station. It is a 25-minute walk.
  • Bishamon-do Temple

    Although the proper name is Goho-ji, this temple gets its popular name from its dedication to Bishamonten, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune of Kyoto. The main temple building, Kara Gate and Nio (Deva) Gate were constructed in 1666 with the same techniques as the World Heritage Site Nikko Tosho Shrine, and they feature ornate craftsmanship. Among the attractions is a fusuma painting in Shinden Hall that gives the impression of changing depending on the viewing angle, and one whose pattern combinations seem to be conveying a message to visitors.
    Located on the side of mountain overlooking the Yamashina basin, Bishamon-do Temple is a popular spot for viewing and photographing the weeping cherry blossom trees in spring and the beautiful autumn colors in fall. (And while looking up at the brilliant leaves is wonderful, enjoying them on the ground has a charm of its own, too!) The approach to the temple is paved with vermilion-dyed flagstones. Walking along it while listening to the crackle of leaves underfoot makes for a relaxing stroll.

    Bishamon-do Temple
    Open hours:
    8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    (until 4:30 p.m. from December through February).
    Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
    Admission:
    Adults: 500 yen
    High school students: 400 yen
    Elementary and junior high school students: 300 yen
    Address:
    18 Anshu Inariyama-cho, Yamashina-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-581-0328
    Access:
    • • Take the Keihan Electric Railway Keishin Line to Keihan Yamashina Station. It is a 20-minute walk.
    • • Take the JR Tokaido Main Line to Yamashina Station. It is a 20-minute walk.
    • • Take the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line to Yamashina Station. It is a 20-minute walk.
  • Sanjusangen-do Temple

    Sanjusangen-do Temple was constructed in 1164 by order of Emperor Go-Shirakawa. Although officially known as "Rengeo-in" (Hall of the Lotus King), the temple's more common name Sanjusangen-do (hall of 33 spaces) comes from the fact that there are 33 spaces between the pillars in the main building. At the center of the main building is a thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy, and along the entire 120 meters of the building is an amazing display of thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy statues, some thousand in all, made of wood. Every year on the Sunday closest to January 15, an archery contest known as Yumi Hiki Hajime (first draw of the year) is held along the long main building. The thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy statues have different faces, and it is said that if you pray to meet someone, you will find that person's face among the statues.

    Open hours:
    8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    (9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. between November 16 and March).
    Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
    Admission:
    Adults: 600 yen
    Junior high and high school students: 400 yen
    Elementary school students: 300 yen
    Address:
    657 Sanjusangen-do Umawari-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-561-0467
    Access:
    Take Keihan Electric Railway to Shichijo Station. It is a seven-minute walk.
  • Sennyu-ji Temple

    Sennyu-ji Temple got its start in the first half of the ninth century when Kobo-Daishi, founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, built a thatched hut in the area. Later, in 1226, a large temple building was completed, and the name was changed to Sennyu-ji (temple of the gushing spring) for the pure water that flows out of one corner of the grounds.
    The spring has not dried up, continuing to flow to this day. Sennyu-ji Temple houses mausoleums with a number of successive generations of emperors. Because of the strong ties to the imperial family, the temple is also known as Mitera (imperial temple). The principle statue is a triad of the Buddhas Shaka, Miroku and Amida created by Unkei, and the ceiling has a picture of a dragon created by Kano Tan'yu. Closed for more than seven centuries until the end of World War II, the Sennyu-ji Temple maintains a particular air of tranquility. Sennyu-ji Temple also has a statue of a sensuous woman, said to have been brought over from China during the Southern Song Dynasty.
    Known as the Yokihi Kannon (Yang Guifei Mercy of Goddess) statue, tradition holds that the statue was commissioned by Chinese Emperor Xuanzong in the Tang dynasty in memory of his consort Yang Guifei. Prayer is said to bring the benefits of beauty. The large temple grounds are noted for their autumnal colors. The compound, which is located at the foot of Mount Tsukinowa, is a noted place to admire the harvest moon in autumn. Every year on Adult's Day (January 15), the rounds are made in grand style to the Seven Gods of Fortune in the Senryu-ji Yamanouchi district.

    Sennyu-ji Temple
    Open hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    (until 4:00 p.m. from December through February)
    Admission:
    Adults: 500 yen
    Elementary and junior high school students: 300 yen
    Address:
    27 Sennyu-ji Yamanouchi-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-561-1551
    Access:
    • • Take Keihan Electric Railway to Tofuku-ji Temple. It is a 10-minute walk.
    • • Take the JR Nara Line to Tofuku-ji Station. It is a 10-minute walk.