Kyoto Surprising Fact

October 17, 2016

by  Sakamoto Keisuke, Sumikawa Tukasa, and Kinjyou Tetuya

Do you know Five-Story Pagoda? We call that building Goju-no-to . It seems like Most people misunderstand about Goju-no-to. Most people think that there is only one Goju-no-to. In fact, Kyoto have a lot of Goju-no-to. we are going to introduce various Five-Story Pagoda.

Five-story pagoda is several types. Ho-ryu-ji, Daigoji and Rurikoji are famous tower in japan. They are a national treasure. Daigoji goju-no-to is in Kyoto. It was completed in 951 years. When the war which is called ONIN WAR break out, Daigoji was burn out, but  five-story pagpda  rebulded later. Daigoji is the oldest bulding in Kyoto .


admission fee

Admission fee for adults is 600 yen. Junior and senior high school students 300 yen. But  kids under elementary school age is free. Daigoji goju-no-to is open from 9 am to 5 pm.


Walk 10 minutes walk from digo station on the Tozai subway line.


Toji Temple

The tower of toji is the most highest tower in japan. Thoji have about 55 meters high . This tower repeated rebuilding. So, current tower is the fifth build in 1644. The tower was build in 883 at the first time.

Admission fee

Adults: 500 yen
High School Students: 400 yen
Junior High/Elementary School Students: 300 yen


Access: 10-minute walk from To-ji Station on the Kintetsu Railway, City Bus Stop To-ji-higashimon-mae, 15-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station Hachijo-guchi exit


The most popular tower in Kyoto is the tower of ninnaji. Because, this tower was used by many movies and historical drama frequently. and It is registered as a world heritage. This have 32,7meters high and was build in 1637.

Admission fee

Adults: 500 yen, Junior High and Elementary School Students: 300 yen


Access: 15-minute walk from JR Hanazono Station on the JR Sagano Line
2-minute walk from Omuro-Ninnaji Station on the Randen Kitano Line
City Bus Stop Omuro-Ninnaji

yasakanotou9 YASAKA-NO-TO

There is a Goju-no-t0 called Yasaka-no-to near Kiyomizu temple. We hardly see people who enter the precincts. It seems that people work in the temple is frequently absent. This building was made by Shotoku prince in 589. Yasaka-no-to have been reconstructed again and again. This building has 46 meters.

Admission fee

Every one 400yen


10 minutes Walk from Keihan gion shijyou.

There are many World heritage in Kyoto.  Tourists will be satisfied with Kyoto . you Should visit this fantastic place at least once.



Yuri Kamakura, Akane Kaneta




Temple is one of the great Zen temples in Kyoto. It was founded in the Muromachi period by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, who was a shogun at that time. Although, Shokoku-ji was destroyed by fire and rebuilt again and again, it has the oldest Zen lecture hall (hatto), originally built  in 1605 and it is an important cultural asset. It has a large dragon painted on its ceiling.There is a wooden sculpture of its founder, Muso Soseki, in the Founder’s Hall (kaisando), which is only open at special times in the spring and fall. ​Also ​the hojo, the abbot’s​ living quarters in a Buddhist temple, a sutra library and Benzaiten shrine are all tangible cultural assets of Kyoto city​.

The ​Temple’s ​Origin

“Shokoku-ji” means “helping the country” or “governing the country.​” This terminology original ​comes from China. In Japan, the Minister of the Left (in medieval and pre-modern Japan) was called “Shokoku.​” Yoshimitsu Ashikaga was the Minister of the Left, so his temple was named “Shokoku-ji.” In China, there are “Taishokoku-ji” which was a temple and the beginning Gozen or “Five Mountains” ​system. The Gozen system​ designated the top five Zen temples in Kyoto.


Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji

“Kinkaku-ji” and “Ginkaku-ji” are branch temple​s​ of Shokoku-ji. Kinkaku-ji was founded by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. Later, Ginkaku-ji was founded by Yoshimasa Ashikaga.





Shokoku-ji ​has a wide variety of activities. Zazenkai or ​Zen meditation meetings​ are held for lay people twice a month. Since 1999, the Enlightenment Activity Committee was set up to explore proper measures for religious outlook for several problems in a modern society. ​They have regular study and training and publisha transcripts​ of lectures ​they hold in cooperation with teachers of various fields.

Jotenkaku Museum

This museum is located in the temple grounds and contains many treasures. It has a deep relationship with the tea master Sen​-​no-​Rikyu, so its collection of items related to the tea ceremony is substantial.  On permanent exhibition are many important cultural properties, such a bokuseki or ink painting and the tea implements, etc. Now, this museum has five national treasure and many excellent cultural properties include 143 important cultural properties.

Admission fees

Adult 800円
65years of age older・College students:600円
Junior and senior high school students:300円
Primary school children:200円

Open: 10:00~17:00


 Zen meditation

Zen meditation is a practice of Zen Buddhism; it  is a means to wake up. People want to live like Buddha, sit and hope that get the enlightenment. Since it’s difficult to continue alone  the temple holds zen meditation meetings. It’s encouraging if there are others doing meditation with you.


Opening day

Every month second fourth Sunday

But there are flying off, be careful.

→Holding time


Zen meditation 9:00 ~ 10:30

Lay sermon 10:30 ~ 11:00

Okokorozashiosame  ¥100







「Imadegawa」 near the subway station

「Doshisyamae」name of nearest city busstop

Tanden-an and Hiko-jinja Shrine

by Ayano Seguchi and Emiri Masunaga

Tanden-an: unique temple in Kyoto


Entrance to Tanden-an

There are many famous temples in Kyoto because Kyoto was an old capital of Japan. Amongst those, there is an interesting and unique temple called Tanden-an. Tanden-an is located in Yawata City, in the south part of Kyoto Prefecture.

It was built in the early Edo period (from 1603 to 1868). It is a temple of the Myoshin-ji School of the Rinzai Sect, one of the five Zen sects of China (Rinzai, Igyo, Soto, Unmon and Hogen) and one of the five Zen sects of Japan (Nihon Daruma, Rinzai, Soto, Obaku and Fuke). So, this is an old temple with a long history.

Your visit to Tanden-an

When you visit Tanden-an, you can see Mido Hall as soon as you pass through the Sannmon Gate, which is the main entrance of any Buddhist temple. Daikokudo hall is an enshrinement hall of a Buddha and Daikoku is an object of worship. Daikokudo hall is made of wood and they don’t know when it was constructed. Daikoku is known as Daikokusama, the god presiding over food and wealth, and was counted one of the seven Shichifukujin.

Shichifukujin: Seven gods of Japan

Shichi means seven in English and fukujin means the god of wealth in English. Shichifukujin bring people good luck. The seven shichifukujin are Ebisu, Daikoku, Vaisravana, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Jurōjin, and Hotei. They are all gods of good luck. Ebisu is the god of wealth. Daikoku is the god presiding over food and wealth. Vaisravana is the guardian god of Buddhism. Benzaiten is the goddess of music, eloquence, also wealth and water. Fukurokuju is the tall-headed god of happiness, wealth, and long life. Jurōjin is the god of longevity. And Hotei is the god with a potbelly. You should visit because Daikoku brings you good luck.

Another name of Tanden-an: Rakugaki Temple

Tanden-an is also called Rakugaki Temple. This is because people who visit there write their aspirations on the white wall of the Daikokudo hall in which Daikoku is enshrined. Rakugaki means that to write letters or draw pictures freely, in other words: graffiti. Whoever visits there can write their wishes on the wall, just like writing graffiti.

There is a unique rule that you have to write your most important wish on the white wall. In addition, there is another rule that after you write your wish, you must throw 300 yen into an offertory box. Many visitors write their wishes on the entire surface of the white wall. Because of this, the white wall has become black. For this reason, the wall is restored to a white wall again on New Year’s Eve every year. The chief priest of a Buddhist temple renews it on that day because New Year’s Eve is the last day of the year.

You should visit Tanden-an and write your most important wish on the white wall. Maybe it will come true!

Hiko-jinja Shrine

This is the symbol of the Hiko-jinja


After you visit Tanden-an, we recommend that you visit Hiko-jinja Shrine, which is also located nearby in Yawata City.

In 1915, Hiko-jinja Shrine was built by Chuhachi Ninomiya, who first studied the principles of air flight in Japan. Born in 1866, Ninomiya succeeded in an early air trial with a model plane containing an engine in 1891, but he stopped developing the airplane when he found out that the Wright brothers successfully had made a two-person airplane and had flown in it. Hiko-jinja Shrine was built in dedication to both the deity, Nigihayahi, and to plane crash victims.

Nigihaya no mikoto: The main enshrined deity

The main enshrined deity in Hiko-jinja is Nigihayahi, who is also called Nigihaya no mikoto. Nigihaya no mikoto is a child of Tenjin, the god of heaven and earth. Because of Ninomiya’s death in 1935, Hiko-jinja Shrine was eliminated. This was because nobody succeeded in taking over custody of Hiko-jinja Shrine. However, Kenjiro Ninomiya, the second son of Chuhachi Ninomiya eventually rehabilitated Hiko-jinja Shrine and rebuilt the present main building to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Chuhachi’s discovery of the principles of flight.

In 1989, around the same time, a museum was built for people interested in flight principles or aircraft. A lot of materials about fighter aircraft are on display at the museum connected with the shrine. Some are model aircrafts that had been given to a Hiko-jinja Shrine as an offering, in addition to a lot of documents about fighter aircrafts and the life of Chuhachi Ninomiya.

People who visit Tanden-an should also make sure to visit Hiko-jinja Shrine because is it not so far away, especially those with an interest in aircraft or the history of flight.

Access to Tanden-an

33 Kakiuchi, Yoshino, Yawata, Yawata-shi, Kyoto, Japan

You go here on foot for ten minutes from Keihan Yawata station.
You go there by Keihan bus from Keihan Yawata station and walk for one minute.

Opening hours
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.


Admission: 100 yen
Making a wish: 300 yen

See map of Tanden-an location

Access to Hiko-jinja

44 Doi, Yawata, Yawata-shi, Kyoto, Japan

You go here by Keihan train and walk for 4 minutes.


Opening hours
Shrine is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hiko Jinja location on Google Maps.


by Manami Otahara & Miki Sawai

Our travel dairy: Fukakusa’s loves story


We visited Fukakusa to see Fushimi-inari shrine. It is very famous shrine, so people visited to there from around the world. People visit to see many Torii. Torii separates gods and humans. Torii looks like shrine gate made of wood, the color is bright red. Fushimi-inari shrine is the main shrine of all the inari shrines in Japan. Other Famous place is Fuji-no-mori shrine, it has to with Japanese emperor Tenno.   This shrine is famous Ajisai festival and the god is known for having luck in games, so people visit this shrine. When we visited this shrine, we saw may beautiful Ajisai. Ajisai is one of the flower in summer. Next place was main the temple for this trip. This temple is Gonjo-ji temple. Gonjo-ji temple is has to with our report.

Fukakusa’s love story


The place we visited is called Fukakusa. It is called Fukakusa because a long time ago, a person named Shosho-Fukakusa lived there. He loved Onono Komachi. She was most beautiful woman in Japan in Heian period. He loved her, but she didn’t love him, so she got an idea. The idea was very simple, he met her every night for 100 days. Her house and his house were far away. The distance was about 7 km, but he would like her to be his wife, so he met her every night. First day, second day, 97th day 98th day 99th day, he met her with peanuts. On the 100th night, she waited for him. However, didn’t come. That day he died because of heavy snow. The next day she found out that he died. She was very sad, so she was planted his nuts in her village. Later the nut grew and the tree is believed to be 1,000 years old.

Gonjo-ji temple


Gonjo-ji temple is a very important place. This is where Fukakusa lived.   There is a pond and this pond is where he looked at himself. There is a big Buddha in this temple, and Fukakusa and Komachi are buried here. Her house was in Yamashina. Yamashina is a town on the border of Kyoto and Shiga, so her house and his house were far away. However when she heard that he died, she was very sad. Therefore when she died, she was buried in this temple.


Fushimi-inari shrine

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Fuji-no-mori shrine

609 Fukakusatoriizakicho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto


1038 nishimasuyacho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Koromode Shrine

by Chinami Aizawa

Kyoto has many temples and shrines. Kinkaku Temple, Ginkaku Temple, Yasaka Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine are all very big and famous. Many people, not only from Japan, but also from foreign countries, visit those places. However, when visiting Kyoto, it is also a good idea to try to get off the beaten path and see a smaller, local temple or shrine that most visitors never get to see. One such place is the Koromode Shrine, which is located in the Nishikyogoku region of Kyoto’s Ukyo Ward. It’s a small shrine surrounded by nature.

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Differences Between Temples and Shrines

Before anything else, do you know the difference between temples and shrines? There are several key differences. First, temples are religious buildings associated with Buddhism, which was brought to Japan from India and China and other S.E. Asian countries. Shrines, on the other hand, are buildings devoted to the gods of Shinto. Shinto is Japanese religion. Many Japanese people go to temples for worship, weddings, and New Years visits. They go to the shrine, however, to attend funerals and to take part in seasonal festivals. Also, temples have tombs, while shrines have iconic gateways at their entrances, also known as torii.

About the Koromode Shrine

The name of this shrine comes from the forest of Koromode. There are old and famous classical Japanese poems that refer to “the forest of Koromode,” such as the Pillow Book by Sei Shounagon. It says that the trees of Koromode forest are really beautiful in autumn, and you can enjoy the view of each season in the forest. Some say this forest was actually nearby the current site of the Koromode Shrine. However, others who study Kyoto history said the forest was near a different shrine, called the Matsunoo-taisha Shrine. So there are several views on the origin of the name.    

The deities enshrined within the Koromode Shrine are Tamayorihimenomikoto, who is the god of the wilds, and Hayamatonokami, who is the god of agriculture. Koromode Shrine is actually an outer precinct shrine of Matsunoo-taisha Shrine, a larger shrine located in Arashiyama. It is a really famous tourist spot for both Japanese and foreign visitors to Kyoto, so many people visit there every day. However, no tourists visit Koromode Shrine. This is because Koromode Shrine is actually a local shrine, serving the Kori area of Kyoto. So only people who live in Kori visit this shrine on a regular basis.

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How to Make an Offering to the God of the Shrine

When you visit a shrine, you might see many Japanese people making an offering to the god of the shrine by tossing money into an offertory box. Do you know why people do that? Actually, even some Japanese people don’t know exactly why. They think that you have to put money into the box to make your wishes come true. However, this is a misunderstanding. You have to put money in the box so that the god of the shrine will grant your wish.   There is a specific method of making an offering to the god of the shrine:

  1. Step in front of the Main Hall and make a slight bow once.
  2. Between you and the Main Hall is an offertory box. Put a coin in the offertory box and pull the rope. Then you will hear the sound of a bell.
  3. Make a low bow twice.
  4. Clap your hands twice.
  5. Make a low bow once.
  6. Make a slight bow once.The money you offered is used for maintenance and repairs of the shrine.


Festivals at Koromode Shrine

There are several festivals at Koromode Shrine throughout the year. The first is on the Sunday just after April 20th. It is called Oide, which means ‘Welcome’. 21 days later, there is another festival called Okaeri, which means ‘Going Back’. During the interval between the Oide and Okaeri festivals, a portable shrine from the main Matsunoo-taisha Shrine is moved to the Koromode Shrine. At that time, the Koromode Shrine becomes an Otabijo (temporary shrine) of the Matsunoo-taisha Shrine. This is a very big festival for the Koromode Shrine. For this reason, many local people of all ages have a great time at the shrine.

Entrance Fees?

Good news: you don’t have to pay money to visit Koromode Shrine. It’s free. However, you should bring some coins if you want to pray properly. I recommend you put 5 yen in the offertory box at the beginning of your prayer. In Japanese, 5 yen is pronounced ‘goen’, which is also the same sound as the Japanese word for ‘fate’. That’s why many people put 5 yen in the offertory box. It is auspicious.

Visiting Hours

There don’t seem to be any set visiting hours. So, you can go to Koromode Shrine just about anytime. I recommend you go there in the evening. Because the shrine is located in a residential area, there are many houses, a park, a nursery school, and a supermarket near Koromode Shrine. The evening is the time when people return home from the day’s activities. If you go there in the evening, you can see the real Japanese lifestyle from the shrine, such as Japanese men arriving home from work in their suits, Japanese boys playing baseball in the park, and Japanese mothers riding a bike to go buy groceries for supper, and so on. I think you can’t see real Japanese people’s life style at the famous tourist spots. This is why a visit to a local shrine like Koromode is so special.

How to Get There

Kyoto City Bus from Kyoto Station Take bus #73 for Rakusai Bus Terminal from Kyoto station. Get off at Nishikyogoku bus stop. If you follow the red line on the map, you can reach Koromode Shrine in about 10 minutes.  

Hankyu Train from Kawaramachi You have to take the train for Umida iki from the Hankyu Kawaramachi station. Get off at Nishikyogoku station and walk for 15 minutes.

Two Temples in Saga

 By Eri Aoki and Shoko Osawa



There are many famous temples in Kyoto, but Jikishi-an and Adashino-nenbutsu are not among them. These two small but significant temples are both located in Kita Saga, an area to the west of Arashiyama.

Jikishi-an is surrounded by beautiful bamboo forests. Upon entering, you will see a building that looks more like an old Japanese house at the end of a long, narrow path than a temple. In January, you can see the Japanese flower ‘roubai’. This yellow flower is so lovely and you can see it bloom only during the months of  January and February. In Jikishi-an, there are a lot of trees, so in autumn you can see many red leaves.

Jikishi-an has a long history. It was founded by Dokushou Seien in 1646 and its name, Jikishi-an, originated with the phrase “jikishi-denshin,” which means to “pass on tradition.” Today, Jikishi-an is known as a temple of the Jodo  sect.

Jikishi-an is mostly well-known, however, for ‘omoide-gusa,’ a kind of notebook in which visitors record their own impressions and messages. This notebook was started in about 1965 and the number of entries now exceed 5000. During a special period in autumn, the notebook is opened to the public.


Entrance to the temple for adults is 500 yen; students are 400 yen.




Adashino-nenbutsu-ji temple is near Arashiyama Station and belongs to the Jodo sect. The temple has a special graveyard. It is famous for being an area where people abandoned the bodies of the dead to let them decompose by exposing them to the elements. This was a customary way of getting rid of corpses during the Heian period.

It is said the temple was established by Kukai in 811 in this place where the ashes of the dead had been beaten into the earth. Afterward Honen founded an Amida Buddha training hall here. The principal image is of Amitabha Tathagata. The main hall of temple was rebuilt in 1712.


There are about 8000 carved stone Buddhas or gravestones on the precincts of the temple. These stone images had been scattered around Adashino but were collected and place here together in 1903. There is also an image of Jizo, the guardian deity for spirits of miscarried children, at the temple. A special prayer service Is held for the spirits of children here on the 24th of every month. In addition, the temple hosts the Sento-kuya, a service for the dead that takes place every August 23rd-24th. In this ceremony, 1,000 candles are lit to honor ancestral spirits. In the fall a bonfire is made to show gratitude for the harvest and delicious food from the land and sea are offered.

The temple is open every day from 9:00-16:30. Entrance fee is  500 yen for adults and 400 yen for junior high school and high school students; children are free. Visitors can see a lot of cherry blossoms in spring and colored leaves in the autumn.

Under Maples & Cherry Trees—Bishamon-do

By Chinami Aizawa, Marino Takeuchi and Nao Mochizuki


Bishamon-do, 毘沙門堂, is one of the great temples of Kyoto. It belongs to the Tendai sect and is a Monzeki temple. It is located in Yamashina. Visitors can wander the grounds freely from 8:30 to 17:00, but the temple closes early at 4:30 pm from December to February. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit. This temple is famous for the maple trees in its garden and a large, 150-year-old “weeping willow” cherry tree. Many people visit Bishamon-do during these seasons, so it can be crowded at those times. The entrance fee is 500 for adults.

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The History of Bishamon-do

Bishamon-do was originally built near the Imperial Palace in Kyoto as Izumo-dera Temple by the order of Emperor Monmu in 703. It is believed that the founder of this temple was Gyoki, a very famous Buddhist priest of the Nara period. The temple was later moved to Yamashina and renamed Bishamon-do.

Over the centuries this temple fell into ruin many times. Taita-no-Chikanori, a member of the government, rebuilt the temple once in the early Kamakura period. In the Middle ages, Izumo-dera became a famous place for its cherry blossoms, and was referred to in some famous books, such as the Meigetsuki, a diary written by Fujiwara-no-Teika. The temple went into ruin again in the late medieval period because of the Onin wars. In the Edo period, Izumo-dera was moved to Yamashina, where it stands today. People began referring to the temple as “Bishamon-do,” because of the image of the deity Bishomonten that was kept there. After that, the temple gradually prospered as an important stop on the route between Kyoto and Shiga. It is said that many people started to come to this temple to see beautiful red leaves in the Edo period. In its long turbulent history, Bishamon-do had many head priests. One of them was the Imperial Prince Koben, who was the son of the Emperor Gosai. So this temple is also known as a Monzeki temple, a temple in which the head priest is related to the Imperial Family.



The temple is named after Bishomenten, one of four heavenly warrior Kings that defend Buddhist Law. Bishamonten is easily identifiable —he holds a spear in one hand and a small pagoda in the other. He is also a member of shichi-fuku-nin, the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, who are celebrated in many local Japanese folk festivals. People believe these gods can bring them prosperity and good luck. It is said that Bishamonten brings people good luck for “winning” any kind of competition.


The Temple Precincts

There are eight buildings and a monument on the temple grounds. Nioumon is the main gate—it leads to the main temple building up a steep stone stairway. A second gate, the Imperial messenger gate, is opened only at special times. The Bansui Garden is a landscape-style garden with a stroll path. It dates back to the beginning of the Edo period when stroll gardens were in vogue. The garden features a waterfall, a mountain stream, a “bridge to paradise” and many maple trees. The shinden is a new reconstruction the older building that was built by Emeror Gosai. The mausoleum contains many portraits and an image of the Buddhist deity Amitabha Tathagata that rests in the center of the building. Takadai-bensanten is a building dedicated to the happiness of ordinary people.


 Special Events

Many events take place at Bishamon-do. An annual light-up at night is held when the maple trees turn red in autumn. During this period the temple stays open until 8:30 pm. On New Year’s Eve, the general public is invited to ring the temple bell from 11:45 pm.



If you come from Kyoto station, it’s better to use a train. You can use JR, subway, or Keihan. The temple is about a 15 -20 walk from Yamashina Station. The way is marked clearly with many flags upon which are written “毘沙門堂.” There is a free parking lot if you come by car.

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The Beautiful Sub-temples of Nanzen-ji

By Eri Aoki and Shoko Osawa

Tenju-an and Konchi-in are sub-temples (tachu) of Nanzen-ji, one of the great Zen temples in Kyoto. This temple complex is nestled in the eastern hills of Kyoto in Sakyo ward. This city has so many famous places, such as Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji, and Nijo Castle, that visitors seldom come to these small yet beautiful sub-temples. Many tourists visit these temples in November because of their autumnal tints.



This small sub-temple was built in 1336 as a dedication to the third Chief priest of Tofuku-ji, Daiminkokushi. Emperor Kameyama, who had converted his palace into a temple that would later be renamed Nanzen-ji received help from this priest. Tenju-an was destroyed in a a huge fire that engulfed Nanzen-ji in 1447. One-hundred and thirty years passed before it was reconstructed with the help of Daimyo Hosokawa Yusai.

After entering Tenju-an, visitors follow a geometric stone path to the east side of the main hall, which is a dry landscape garden that features two “islands” of moss and a pine tree in a sea of raked white gravel. Pines and maples trees form the backdrop of this garden and the maples are especially beautiful in the spring and autumn. Another stone path leads to the back garden, which consists of a small pond and a larger pond surrounded by maple trees. There are many carp (koi) in these ponds. The landscape style of these gardens is said to be typical of the gardens of the 14th century. Visitors cannot enter the main building, but can visit the garden.

In the back of the temple there is a small cemetery —the gravestones of many famous people including the founder of the Kyoto Shimbun (newspaper), are here.

Visitors can also see famous paintings by Touhaku Hasegawa on the fusuma sliding doors of the main hall. These paintings of pine trees were painted in 1602 in Zen ink-painting style; they have been designated as Important Cultural Properties.

Tenju-an has special night illumination from November 15th to 30th. During that time the temple will be lit up from 17:30 to 21:00. Fee: Adult 500 yen, high school student 400 yen, junior high school student 300 yen.

Tenju-an is located just south of the huge sanmon gate of Nanzen-ji.



Konchi-in, another small sub-temple of Nanzen-ji, was constructed by Yoshimochi Ashikaga in 1605.  This temple is famous for a garden that was designed by Enshu Kobori. It is called Tsurukame no niwa—“Crane and Turtle Garden.” The main garden has two facing arrangements of rocks and trees that represent a crane and turtle, which are symbols of happiness and longevity. One of the rock arrangements represents a “takarabune”, a treasure ship carrying the Seven Gods of Good Fortune in a sea of snowy white sand. The garden is gorgeous and powerful. This garden was built with the purpose of bringing happiness to visitors. On the left side of the garden is a pond that is built in the shape of the Chinese character for heart or “kokoro” (心) It has a small shrine and beautiful moss.

This temple has four buildings. The main hall was constructed in 1611 and is an Important Cultural Property. Next there is a tea-ceremony room. It is also an Important Cultural Property, and was made by Masaichi Kohori. Another important building that is located on a hill behind the garden is Tosho-gu, which was built to follow the instructions of Ieyasu Tokugawa’s last words.

Konchi-in is located on the south side of the street leading up to the main gate of the entrance to Nanzen-ji.


Our thoughts

After we went Tenju-an and Konchi-in, we felt really proud of Japanese culture and tradition. Before going, we thought this was just another sightseeing place. As children we felt temples were boring places. However, we found that there is a lot of history and traditional Japanese thinking in these temples. Also we discovered how the atmosphere changes with the seasons.

Nanzenji is accessible by the number 5 bus (get off at the stop called  “Dobutsu-en Mae”) or by the east-west subway line. Get off at Keage Station and walk north 5 minutes.

Kyoto’s Great Zen Temple


By Chinami Aizawa, Marino Tekuchi and Nao Mochizuki


Nanzen-ji is one of Kyoto’s great Zen temples. It is located in Sakyo ward at the foot of the eastern hills near Sanjo Street. Nanzen-ji has large grounds and many things to see, so it is an especially good place to take a walk. Also, there are many other famous sightseeing spots nearby, such as Heian Shrine, the Lake Biwa Canal, Murin-an, Eikando, the Kyoto Zoo, the Municipal and Modern Art Museums and the Nomura Museum.

As you see in the pictures, an especially good time to visit Nanzen-ji is in November when the leaves of the maple and gingko trees change into red, yellow and gold. This temple is not only popular among foreign tour groups, but also for Japanese. In November is is better to visit on a weekday as the weekends are very crowded with people.

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What to see at Nanzen-ji

In Nanzen-ji temple there is no water to purify ourselves by gargling and washing our hands. Such water basins are found at shrines and not temples. Nanzen-ji’s great sanmon (gate), built in 1628, is rated as one of the top three temple gates in Japan. It is not enclosed so it is accessible at any time of the day or night. On the second story is a chamber that contains paintings of celestial maidens, a wooden statue of the Buddha and 16 rakkan. You can see wonderful views of Nanzen-ji and Kyoto city from here. There are many souvenir shops and yudofu restaurants on the road leading up to the temple. Many events are held at Nanzen-ji throughout the year.

Fee areas; We cannot enter the garden of the Hojo (head priest’s quarters), the second story of the sanmon gate, or the sub-temple of Nanzen-in without buying an entrance ticket. In general visitors pay about 500 yen to see each one of these places. However, the entrance fee for Nanzen-in is 300 yen. Nanzen-in was the retirement villa of Emperor Kameyama and has a beautiful pond garden. It is located in back of Nanzen-ji on the other side of the aqueduct.

Famous Cuisine

The area around Nanzen-ji is famous for yudofu—a tofu hotpot. Tofu is prpared in many ways in the restaurants around Nanzen-ji. For example, in summer, tofu is served chilled with ginger and myoga. People sometimes eat tofu with flavored with kudzu paste on top. Boiled tofu, or yudofu, is served in in a nabe (hotpot) at the table and warms you up in winter. One famous yudofu restaurant, Shousouin, unfortunately closed a few years ago, but it had been serving tofu ever since the Edo era.


In 1264, Emperor Kameyama built Zenrin-ji dono as a detached palace in the eastern hills of Kyoto. Twenty-five years later, in 1289, he became a Zen priest and converted his palace into a Zen temple. He dedicated this temple to a famous priest of Tofuku-ji Temple, Daiminkokushi. This temple later became known as Nanzen-ji (“Southern Temple of Enlightenment”). At that time, Emperor Kameyama changed his title to Mukan Fumon and served as the temple’s first head priest. He believed that the chief priest of Nanzen-ji should be the best Zen priest in all of Japan. So from then on, “The chief priest of Nanzen-ji” was always thought to be the best Zen priest in Japan.

In 1334, Emperor Godaigo ranked Zenrin-ji dono as the best among the “Gozan.” “Gozan” meant “the Five Mountains”, and was a system of ranking the five greatest Zen temples of Kyoto.

In 1467, Nanzen-ji temple was burnt down during the Onin War. The temple had been rebuilt, but full-scale reestablishment started much later, so it languished for years.

The quarters of the head priest  (Hojo) features three dry landscape gardens (karesansui). The first and largest is said to be built by Kobori Enshu around 1600. The garden is called “Toranoko-watshi-no-niwa” (Tiger cub crossing the river), because of the placement of the stones. In the Hojo, there are about 40 paintings, the most famous of which are tigers painted on fusuma by Kano Tanyu. They are Important Cultural Properties. Visitors can also request green tea here.

After the Meiji Restoration, the Lake Biwa canal or aqueduct was built through the grounds of Nanzen-ji temple. It was used to bring water to Kyoto from Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. This sight became famous for the citizens of Kyoto.

Today, Nanzen-ji is known as the best Zen temple in Japan.


Lake Biwa Aqueduct


How to get to Nanzen-ji

Visitors can access Nanzen-ji by bus or train. If you want to get there from Kyoto station, take the number 5 bus and get off at either at “Kyoto “Dobutsuen-mae” or “Nanzen-ji Temple Eikando-michi”. It takes about 30 minutes and costs 230 yen. The buses on this route run about every ten minutes, though at peak times the bus is packed full like a can of sardines. If you take the east-west subway, get off at Keage Station and walk north.



Akiho Kamijo and Shiho Iwasaki

Ohara Area

The Ohara area of Kyoto is about one hour by bus from Kyoto Station. It lies in the western foothills of Mount Hiei, one of the holiest mountains in Japan.There are a number of famous temples here, and the scenery changes by the season. In the spring, the cherry blossoms are incredible, and in the autumn the leaves offer a riot of vivid color. We will now introduce a few of the most interesting aspects for tourists to see and discover.




Sanzen-in, a temple of the Tendai Buddhist sect, is located here, and is famous for its elegant beauty and peaceful atmosphere. It was founded by a very famous monk called Saicho, and is a Monzeki temple, which means it was connected to the Japanese royal family. In the temple grounds, there are three distinct and important buildings; Ojo Gokurakuin, Shinden and Kyakuden.

The Ojo Gokurakuin Hall

The Ojo Gokurakuin Hall was first built at the end of the 10th century and is the oldest building in Sanzen-in. It was rebuilt in the 12th century, however, and this is the structure you can see today. The most important treasure of Sanzen-in is housed here, and this is the statue of Amida Buddha. There are also two other very important statues of gods that accompany Amida in the hall, and they are Seishi and Kannon.

The Shinden Hall

This is the main hall at Sanzen-in, and there is also another statue of Amida Buddha here. There are also two more statues to the left and right of him, and these are of Kannon and Fudo Myo. Outside of this hall is a spectacular moss garden, with Ojo Gokurakuin in the center.

The Kyakuden Hall

Built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, this is really a guest hall for receiving visitors, and is the first main building you go through when entering the temple. There are some beautiful examples of Japanese artwork and calligraphy on hand, especially the Fusumae, which are paintings or calligraphy on sliding doors. It is also possible to view the impressive Shuheiken Garden from here, which features a rather lovely pond.


Other Temples


Two of the many other interesting temples in the Ohara area, are Jikko-in and Shorin-in. Jikko-in is actually a sub-temple of Shorin-in, and is most notable for its gardens. These gardens feature elegantly shaped ponds, and have some very rare trees and plants in them, including Fudan-zakura, an exquisite variety of cherry blossom. Shorin-in is also known as Motoji Temple, and has a strong connection to traditional Japanese music. There are many historical documents and artifacts related to this temple, but the most valuable treasure here is probably the Bonsho, or Buddhist temple bell, which hails from the Fujihara era and is recognized as an Important Japanese Cultural Property.

Ajisai Matsuri (Hydrangea Festival)


The Ajisai Matsuri, or Hydrangea Festival, is held annually at Sanzen-in from mid-June to mid-July. More than 3,000 blooms are on display each year, and there are many varieties in a host of different colors. Although this event takes place at the height of the rainy season, it is worth the trip from Kyoto City, as the flowers can look even more impressive in a light rain or drizzle. There is an entrance fee to the gardens, but no reservation is required.


Oharame was the name given to the women of Ohara who used to sell their farm products in the surrounding areas, and Kyoto City, using a rather unique method of delivery. Basically, they would carry everything on their heads, from firewood to flowers to vegetables. This custom lasted for about 800 years, from the Kamakura Period to the early Showa Period. It was not unusual for these women to walk over 20 kilometers in a day often with loads of between 30 and 50 kilos. They were most distinctive, however, for the dark blue kimono they wore, with the sleeves tied up with ‘tasuki’, a special kind of string.

Ohara is a small, but very interesting hamlet just outside a major city, and with all the hidden delights on offer, is a really cool place to visit for a day, or even overnight. There are several places where you can stay here, and they have hot spring baths! Please take the time to come and enjoy Ohara.


From Kokusaikaikan Station on the Karasuma Subway Line – Take the Kyoto Bus No 19 to Ohara (approx. 20 minutes)

From Kyoto Station – Take Kyoto Bus No 17 to Ohara (approx. 60 minutes)