Awataguchi Sanjobocho, 6 9-1, Higashiyama Ward; Kyoto Prefecture 605-0035, Japan
9:00-17:00 Daily special evenings open for light show
Wwith four gardens connecting it’s buildings, Shōren-in is a marvelous temple, of the Buddhism Tendai sect, dating from the 12th century. An easy visit, being only five minute walk from Higashiyama, it’s small shrine and a expansive bamboo grove would be a shame to miss.
Inside the temples Kacho-den room, the screens are adorned with Fusuma paintings of lotus flowers by the artist Kimura Hideki; while above hang 36 framed portraits and poems from 36 seperate poets. Behind th Kacho-den room is the tearoom with view over the Soami-no-niwa Garden. During the cold months, this is the most delightful place to enjoy a hot drink and a sweet while absorbing the beauty of the garden.
33 Omuroouchi, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto,
Kyoto Prefecture 616-8092, Japan
Ninna-ji was originally built in the year 886-888 by Emperors Kōkō and Uda as the head temple of the Omuro School of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. However, none of the buildings from the temple’s foundation in the 9th century still survive. The oldest buildings date back to the beginning of the Edo Period in the early 1600s. The Kannon Hall, the Niomon front gate, the Chumon inner gate and the five storied pagoda are standouts among the temples..
Worth note is the Goten. The former residence of the head priest, in the southwestern corner of the temple complex. Here sliding doors (fusuma) provide a broad open view to the beautiful stones and pond.
If you are in season, look for the grove of locally Omuro Cherries!
Sai-mon (west gate)
294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto,
Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862, Japan
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!