Kyoto city is situated in the Kansai region on the island of Honshu in Japan. The city is considered as a major tourist destination and the cultural capital of Japan with its many beautiful temples in Kyoto. Kyoto is home to several Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces and gardens. Few important landmarks include the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kinkaku-ji, Katsura Imperial Villa and many more. The city has about 2000 religious places, 1500 Buddhist temples and 500 Shinto shrines. Kyoto is one of the best preserved cities in Japan. Kyoto is architecture intact.
- Kiyomizu-dera temple :
- Kinkaku-ji :
- Ginkaku-ji :
- Ryoan-ji :
- Tenryu-ji :
- Chion-in temple :
- To-ji :
- Saiho-ji :
- Higashi hongan-ji :
- Nanzen-ji :
- Kurama-dera :
- Byodo-in temple :
- Daigo-ji :
- Tofuku-ji :
- Kennin-ji :
The main religions followed are Buddhism and Shinto. The people who follow Shinto believe that spirits are in every object in the universe. The form of Shinto is animism. Shinto simply means way of kami. Shintoists go to shrines for celebrations, to pray for health and success and wish for good luck. On the other hand Buddhism was brought into Japan in the 5th century from China. Buddhism developed more through trade with China after the 6th century. The influence of Buddhism on Japanese people’s lives is comparatively moderate these days. Here is a list of 15 beautiful Kyoto temples to visit on your trip to Kyoto city.
This Kyoto temple is an independent Buddhist temple in Kyoto. It is part of the Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and UNESCO world heritage site. The temple was founded in 778 and its present buildings were constructed in 1633. The entire structure is built without using a single nail. The name for this temple is taken from the waterfall within the temple complex which runs off the nearby hill. The main hall of the temple offers impressive views of the city. Underneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Tourists can catch and drink of the water which is believed to have wish granting powers. There are many other shrines in the temple complex. One such shrine is the Jishu Shrine dedicated to the god of love and good matches.
This Kyoto temple is also called Rokuon-ji which translates to Deer Garden Temple. Kinkaku-ji literally means Temple of the Golden Pavillion. Kinkaku-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. This temple is also a part of the world heritage sites. The golden pavilion is a beautiful three storey building of the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The pavilion’s top two floors are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion houses the relics of the Buddha. The temple complex is surrounded by a beautiful garden. It also has a mirror pond which reflects the building.
The pavilion successfully absorbs three definite styles of architecture called shinden, samurai and zen, particularly on each floor. The first floor is called the chamber of dharma waters provided in shinden-zukuri style. The second floor is called the tower of sound waves constructed in the style of buke-zukuri or warrior aristocrats. This floor also contains a Buddha hall and a shrine devoted to the goddess of mercy, Kannon. The third floor is called the cupola of the ultimate and it is built in traditional Zen style, called zenshu-butsuden-zukuri.
The entry fee to the temple is around 400 yen. The temple is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.
This Kyoto temple is officially called Jisho-ji which means temple of shining mercy. Ginkaku-ji is a beautiful Zen temple located in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto. Ginkaku-ji means temple of the silver pavilion. This temple is very popular and attracts tourists from all over the world annually. The temple’s construction represents the Higashiyama Culture of the Muromachi period. The temple was originally built to serve as a place of rest and solitude for the Shogun or the military dictator.
The main structure of the building has two stories. The structure’s design imitates the golden temple Kinkaku-ji. This temple’s property also features wooded grounds. Japanese gardens are usually designed in a go-round style. It implements the idea of borrowing a scenery or shakkei in Japanese. A pond is located in the south east corner of the building where visitors can see the moon rise between the peaks of Higashiyama.
The entry fee to the temple is 500 yen. The temple is open from 8 am to 5 pm from March to November and from 9 am to 4 pm from December to February.
Ryoan-ji is famous for its rock garden, which attracts tourists is hundreds everyday. This Kyoto temple is located in the north west region of Kyoto, Japan. Ryoan-ji is a Zen temple and is called the temple of the dragon at peace. The temple belongs to Myoshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. The temple’s garden is considered as one of the admirable surviving examples of kare-sansui or dry landscape. A unique feature of the garden’s design is that from any vantage point at least one of the rock is always hidden from the viewer. The temple grounds includes a spacious park area with pond.
Ryoan-ji temple can be reached directly from Kyoto Station by bus which takes about 30 mins. From March to November the temple is open from 8 am to 5 pm and from December to February it is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The entry fee to the temple is 500 yen.
This Kyoto temple was formally known as Tenryu Shiseizen-ji. This is the head temple of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. The temple is located in Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo ward of Kyoto. The temple was founded in 1339 primarily to worship Gautama Buddha. The temple is ranked number on among Kyoto’s so-called five mountains. The temple is held in high esteem and is also a part of the World heritage site. The temple also features a circular promenade garden around Sogen Pond and is nominated as a special place of scenic beauty of Kyoto, Japan.
Tenryu-ji temple is a short walk from the Keifuku Arashiyama Station which is connected by the small Keifuku trains. Tourists can also reach the temple in a 5 minute walk from JR Saga Arashiyama Station. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm every day. The entry fee is around 500 yen.
This Kyoto temple is the headquarters of the Jodo-shu or Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism. The Jodo sect has millions of followers and is one of the most popular Buddhist sects in Japan. The temple was originally built in 1234 by Honen’s disciple. Chion-in has spacious grounds and large buildings. Tourists will not miss noticing the temple when they come across its huge Sammon gate. The sammon gate is the temple’s main gate situated alongside the road between Maruyama Park and Shorenin Temple. It is the largest wooden gate in the whole of Japan. The centre of the temple premises is an open area with stone paths connecting the temple’s main buildings. The huge Miedo hall is the temple’s principle object of worship. The Amidado Hall has the statue of Amida Buddha.
Chion-in temple is a 10 minute walk from the nearest subway station. The temple is located north of Maruyama Park and Yasaka Shrine in Higashiyama District of Kyoto. The temple is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The entry is free of cost in this temple.
This Kyoto temple is a Shingon Buddhist temple located in the Minami-ku ward of Kyoto. It was founded in the year 796. The temple has a long history, housing treasures and documents from the early Heian period and the Tang dynasty. This temple was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
This temple’s has a sound architecture. It has a five storey pagoda that stands 180 feet high and is the tallest wooden tower in the whole of Japan. Visitors can enter the pagoda only on special occasions, but the interior can be seen from the outside which is usually open. You can find many relics, sculptures and paintings. In the ground floor you can find four Buddhas facing different directions. There is a golden hall or the Kondo which is the main hall of the temple. There is a Miedo hall devoted to Kobo Daishi. The temple grounds feature a garden and a pond in which turtles and koi swim.
The temple is a 15 minute walk from Kyoto station. The temple is open from 8 am to 5 pm on all days. The entry fee to the temple is around 500 yen and around 800 yen during special openings of the pagoda.
This Kyoto temple is a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple situated in Matsuo, Nishikyo Ward of Kyoto. The temple is known for its moss garden and commonly called Koke dera. Legend states that famous Japanese monks Kukai and Honen served as the chief priests of Saiho-ji.
The moss garden of Saiho-ji is located in the eastern temple grounds. The garden is arranged in a circular promenade centred on Golden Pond or the ogonchi in Japanese. The pond is in the shape of the kokoro, the Chinese character for heart or mind. The zone around the pond is said to be covered with more than 100 varieties of moss. The garden has three tree houses Shonan tei, Shoan do and Tanhoku tei inspired from Zen phrases.
This temple is open to the public on a walk up basis like other temples, but a number requirement restricts the number of visitors. These regulations are put into place to protect the fragile moss from the troop of tourists.
There is only one visit per day with time varying , reservations are required by advance application by return postcard. The entry fee is around 3000 yen. Tourists are given access for 90 minutes only to the temple grounds.
This Kyoto temple is called the head temple in the city. The temple is one of the two major sub sects of Shin Buddhism and Nishi Honganji. The temple is also the headquarters of the Jodo shin sect. In this temple visitors can experience contemporary Japanese Buddhism. The temple was built in 1591. The temple has two large structures the Goeido Hall and the Amidado Hall.
Higashi Hongan-ji is a 10 minute walk from Kyoto Station. The entry to this temple is free of cost. It is open from 5:30 am to 6 pm on all days.
This is a Zen Buddhist Kyoto temple in Japan. Nanzen-ji was established in the year 1291. The temple precincts are nationally designated Historic site and the gardens of the temple is a place of scenic beauty. The temple is notable for its gardens and its art. The garden reflects natural forms and is seventy percent gravel. The temple also has a variety of important screen paintings on gold backgrounds.
Nanzen ji is a 5 minute walk from the nearest subway station. The entry fee to the temple is around 500 yen. The temple is closed from December 28th to 31st every year. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm on all days.
This Kyoto temple is in the far north of the city. This temple houses some of the National treasures of Japan. Kurama dera is a member of the Tendai sect. The object of worship is puzzling and unique to the temple. The temple is situated at the base of Mount Kurama in sheltered wilderness. It is accessible by its own cable car line. The temple is extremely popular owing to the many mysteries and occult events surrounding it.
The temple is connected with central Kyoto railway. The entry fee to the temple is around 300 yen. It is open from 9 am to 4pm everyday.
Byodo-in is a Buddhist Kyoto temple located in Uji. Built in the Heian period, the temple represents the Pure Land Paradise and significantly influenced later temple constructions. Its most spectacular feature, the Phoenix Hall, is featured on the Japanese ten Yen coin. While most of Byodoin’s buildings were lost to fire and other calamities, the Phoenix hall has remained unscathed. It features a statue of Amidha Buddha.
Byodo-in is a 10 minute walk from Uji Station on the JR nara line. The entry fee is around 600 yen. There is a concession for students. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.
This is a Shingon Buddhist temple in Kyoto. This temple’s main devotion is Yakushi. Daigo-ji possesses 18 particularly designated national treasures. The temple holds several dozen major cultural assets. The temple’s five-story pagoda was built in the year 951 and it is the oldest building in Kyoto. The temple is laid out in three parts Sambo in, Shimo Daigo and Kami Daigo. These are continuously older wilder and further up the mountain.
The temple can be reached in a 15 minute walk from Daigo Station along the Tozai Subway line. The admission fee for the temple is around 1500 yen and it is open from 9 am to 5 pm on all days.
Tofuku-ji is a temple in Kyoto that follows Japanese Buddhism. It is located in Higashiyama-ku in Kyoto. Tofuku-ji is one of the five great temples of Kyoto. The temple was founded in the year 1236. The temple’s main gate is the oldest sanmon in Kyoto. The gate is two stories high and five bays wide. The central three bays are doors. There are many gardens surrounding the temple complex. A large number of tourists visit the temple during the autumn season to witness the Japanese maple trees autumn foliage.
The temple is at a 10 minute walking distance from Tofukuji Station. The entry fee is around 400 yen and an addition 400 yen to see the Hojo and gardens.
This is a historic Zen Buddhist temple in Higashiyama district of Kyoto. Kennin-ji is considered as one of the five most important Zen temples of Japan. The temple was founded in the year 1200 and claims to be the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. Initially the temple practiced Zen, Tendai and Shingon later it became a purely Zen institution. The temple contains notable paintings by Tamura Soryu and Hashimoto Kansetsu. Kennin-ji is also one of Rinzai sect’s headquarter temples.
The temple is located at the south end of the Hanamikoji Street in Gion. The entry fee here is around 500 yen. The temple is closed from December 28 to 31 every year, it is open from 10 am to 5 pm on all days.
Whether you are traveling for leisure or making a quick stop over at Kyoto, the 15 temples mentioned above is a must visit attraction, especially for first timer. It is a wonderful chance to learn about the Japanese history and tradition and gain experience that will be forever etched in your memories. The picturesque locations are ideal for photography.