Tag Archives: Temple

Kyomizu Dera – Kyoto, Japan


Sai-mon (west gate)

Kyomizu Dera

(81)  75.551.1234

Open Hours:
6:00-18:00    Daily
18:00-21:00 Special dates

Located up mount Otowain above Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward, Kyomizu Dera is one of the most impressive structures of ancient Japan (and holds one of the best views in Kyoto!).  The walk up to the temple itself is a mesmerizing trek.  One eases up into the temple passing the massive structure beneath. By the time you get to the temple itself, you are already filled with awe.

The main hall was built in 778 and reconstructed in 1633.  The innermost sanctuary holds the image of eleven-headed Thousand-armed Kannon Bodhisattva. The deity of great mercy and compassion “Kiyomizu Kannon-san.”

The Zuigu-do hall, reconstructed in 1718, holds as it’s principal image  the Daizuigu Bodhisattva. Underneath this hall rests the Tainai meguri – regarded as the womb of Zuigu-Botatsu (symbolized by the Sanskrit character हर “Hara”) who is  known as the motherly Buddha.  The Tainai meguri is a pitch dark passage way, with only an oversized Buddhist bead string along the wall to guide your hand as you maze your way down to the Zuigu stone.

We visited the temple at night, after a lovely walk through the Higashiyama streets. We were quite lucky as the temple was open with a special light presentation!

Kyyomizu Dera Temple


photo © Kyomizu dera (Kyo-do hall en-ryu)

Daigoji – Kyoto, Japan

Daigo-ji Bentendo Hall
Bentendo Hall


(81)  75.571.0002

Open Hours to non guests:
9:00-16:00    Daily

Daigoji  is a Shingon Buddhist temple in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto.  In a city over-flowing with such sites, it might be a thought to skip Daigoji as it is a bit distant from the usual tourist areas.  Daigoji is truly worth the trip.  It holds one of the most beautiful gardens in all Kyoto; The perfect place to contemplate the colors of fall and the blooms of spring.

The temple complex was founded in 874.  After Emperor Daigo abdicated in 930, he entered the Buddhist priesthood at this temple and died here.  He was also buried on the temple grounds and it now bears his name.

The Daigoji complex holds eighteen national treasures and is laid out in three parts: Sambō-in, Shimo-Daigo (Lower Daigo) at the base of the mountain, and Kami-Daigo (Upper Daigo).


Daigo-ji 017

Bentendo Hall is dedicated to Benzaiten (Sarasvati), the goddess of knowledge and liberal arts.  She is known as one of Seven Deities of Good Fortune (Shichifukujin).

The Five-story Pagoda – Goju-No-To (about 38 meters tall)


Sultanahmet Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey


Sultanahmet Mosque

Sultanahmet Cami, 34122
Sultanahmet, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey


daily except during daily prayers


Visible from many spots around Istanbul, the Sultanahmet Mosque dominates the skyline. Commonly, it is known as the Blue Mosque, because of the blue ceramic tiles of different tulip designs, from Iznik city (Nicaea), that line it’s interior.

Sultan Ahmed I, had it built between 1609 and 1616 over the site of the ancient hippodrome and the palace of the Byzantine emperors.  Facing the Hagia Sophia, the Sultanahmet Mosque was desigened by royal architect Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa.

The  tablets on the walls are inscribed by the  17th century calligrapher Ametli Kasım Gubarımare with the names of the caliphs and verses from the Quran. One will also find beautiful examples of Arabic calligraphy by Seyyid Kasim Gubari.

The upper levels of the Mosque’s interior are dominated by blue floral drawings and stained glass windows. The coloured glass for the windows was a gift from the Signoria of Venice to the sultan.   Unfortunately time and poor taste have replaced many of the windows with modern versions with little or no artistic merit.

The mosque has six minarets each with three balconies (Called Şerefes).  This was unusual, and a cause of public unrest, as most mosques only have four minarets. Six was a number reserved only for Mecca.  As a good solution, more more minarets where added to Mecca – and the conflict was settled!

The design of the Sultanahmet Mosque is the culmination of over two centuries of both Ottoman and Byzantine temple development.  It incorporates Byzantine elements, from the neighboring Hagia Sophia, with traditional Islamic architecture.  This wonderful structure is considered the last great mosque of the classical period of the Ottoman Empire.

The Blue Mosque is an active religious site, so it’s closed to non worshipers for a half hour or so during daily prayers.   Before stepping in to Mosque, be sure to take off your shoes, women should bring a large scarf to cover the head and shoulders (but if you forget  you can rent one at the door).  In a kind of kitchy but fun actvity,  you can book  a photo shoot with traditional Ottoman Costumes in the Blue Mosque via the Ottoman dream studio.

The Sultanahmet Mosque is on the must see list of any good site-seeing tour of Istanbul.  It is a true marvel and a testament to builders of another age.  The complexities of its vaults and tiling is a site to behold.