New Tourist Spot: Shouju-in

May 17, 2019

by Natsumi Endo and Momoyo Matsuoka

Shouju-in is a temple that is located in Uji-tawara, which is famous for green tea in Kyoto. The place is cooler than Kyoto city because it is at a higher altitude.

Shouju-in’s origin is not clear. Shouju-in was built in Kamakura era (1185-1113). In addition, the principal image in the temple is the Eleven-Headed Kannon. This is a secret statue, so we can see it only once every 50 years. The Eleven-Headed Kannon was made in Muromatchi era (1336-1573), and it escaped burning down from two times of fire in SenGoku era (1476-1603) and Edo era (1603-1867).

Shouju-in has become a famous photo spot among young tourists, because there are many places to take beautiful photos to post on Instagram. One of them is the “Inome-Window” and it is probably the most popular photo spot within the temple. “Inome” is one of the old traditional designs in Japan. “Inome” means heart-shaped in English, and the kanji, or Chinese character, for it is 「猪目」(eyes of a wild boar). Old Japanese thought this heart shape looked like the eyes of a wild boar, so it was named like that. The shape is said to prevent trouble and bring good luck. Through this of heart-shaped window, we can see seasonal views of cherry blossoms in spring, rich green trees in summer, autumn leaves in fall, and a snow scene in winter. You can take nice photos whenever you visit there. In the same room as the Inome-window, 160 paintings of flower and scenes of Japan are painted on the ceiling. The picture designs are of Japanese traditional flowers, Japanese traditional patterns, and maiko. They are really colorful and will make you warm inside.

Not only that, there are some events. While viewing nature, you can experience yoga, sutra copying, and making a Buddhist rosary. If you are interesting in it, I recommend you to make reservation with them at first. You can forget daily life while feeling rich nature.

One of the seasonal events is the display of some 2,000 wind chimes that give a warm welcome to people who visit Shouju-in from July to September. There are various types, colors, and tones of wind-chimes. In back of the wind-chimes is bamboo, so you can enjoy a mixture tones of bamboo and wind-chimes. In this season, you can design your own wind-chime.

In Shoujuin, you can experience not only rich nature but also Japanese culture. In addition, you can enjoy Japanese seasonal things there. Shoujuin is the place you can relax anytime you visit.

Information

Open hour: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission fee: 400 yen (including tea fee)
Address: 149, Kawakami, Okuyamada, Ujitawarachou, Tsuzukigun, Kyoto
TEL: 077-488-3601

Also, there are a lot of fascinating things: history of green tea, shrine, nature and important cultural property.

Nagatanisouenseika (Uji-tawara Green Tea)

Uji-tawara town is famous for green tea because the birthplace of the green tea is in Uji-tawara town. In 1738, a man who was called Nagatani Soen found out how to make beautiful green tea. Until he discovered it, Japanese drank tea that looked black, not green. It means he led a big change in tea industry in Japan.

If people go to his house: Nagatanisouenseika, they can know more deeply about green tea history.

Information

Period: fixed days off (people can enter the house only weekend and holiday)
Open hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission fee: 100 yen
Address: Yuyadani, Ujitawatachou, Tsuzukigun, Kyoto
TEL: 077-488-6638

How to get: From Kyoto station, get on JR Nara Line; for Nara, to Uji station. After that, get on Keihan bus; for Kougyodanchi, to Kougyodanchi. From the bus stop, it takes about 30 minutes on foot.

Sarumaru shrine

Enshrined deity of Sarumaru shrine is Sarumaru Daifu. He was a famous tanka poet in the Heian era (794-1185). There are cute ema, a votive tablet used as an offering at a shrine. If people pay 500 yen for ema, they can draw a monkey’s face freely.

Information

Open hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission fee: free.
Address: 44, Makitani, Zenjyoji, Ujitawarachou, Tsuzukigun, Kyoto
TEL: 077-488-3782

Zenjo-ji Temple

Zenjo-ji Temple was built by Shonin Heiso in 991. People can be relaxed when viewing a Japanese garden.

When people enter the Zenjo-ji, beautiful Japanese garden and the main building of a temple with a thatched roof that jump into their eyes. Then, people can see dots on the thatched roof. The dots are shell of abalone for driving off bad luck and repelling bard. Also, there is disaster prevention wall at back of main building. There is big wall painting: “Great Nirvana” printed on the wall. Great Nirvana was painted in memory of the Zenjo-ji in commemoration of its 1,000th anniversary. In addition, in this temple’s storehouse, there are the Buddha which was made in Heian (794-1185). These Buddha are important cultural properties.

Information

Open hour: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission fee: 500 yen

Address: 100, Zenjyoji, Ujitawarachou, Tsuzukigun, Kyoto

TEL: 077-488-4450