3. Shingetsu vegetarian restaurant @ Tenryū-ji – reservation is mustand walk-ins will receive a firm “NO”!
Note: if you forget to make a reservation for Shingetsu you can go to any of the tofu restaurants on the main street leading to the train station
5. Lunch at Tenryū-ji or any of the other restaurants on the way to the train station
We know eventually one gets “templed-out” in Kyoto; so we recommend to head to Tenryū-ji earlier in your stay. It has many subtle and beautiful elements that may suffer in appreciation after such over the top builds such as the Golden Temple at Kinkaku-ji or the sheer scale of Kyomizu Dera!
Sort of an easy one in Kyoto, the magestic residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until 1868, it immediately went through a Meiji Restoration in 1869. From the impressive gates of cypress-wood, throughout the entire complex you will be awed as you are in most of Kyoto.
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!
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 meguriis 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!
(81) 75.872-2233 8-3 Sagaogurayama Tabuchiyamacho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8394, Japan
Open Hours: 9:00-17:00 Daily
Located a 15 minute walk from Tenryūji Temple, on the slopes of Mount Ogura, at the end of the famous Arashiyama Tenryū-ji Bamboo Forest , is hidden this most beautiful place; Okochi Sanso. The former home and garden of the actor Denjirō Ōkōchi (1898–1962) the villa became public after his death in 1962.
Ōkōchi -san’s movie career spanned over 5 decades from 1926 – 1962. Escaping from the bustle of set, He retreated to the land and designed (mostly himself) this calming collection of gardens and buildings through the 1930s – 40s.
Narrow pathways, past the vistas and forests, will bring you to a small museum (for Denjirō Ōkōchi and his life in film), as well as the Jibutsudō – an original Meiji Era building. On your short walk, you can experience a most wonderful view of the fall foliage should you be present during the Autumn; and, with assumption, the same must be true for the spring bloom!
Keep your eyes open for a very discrete path. Via this hidden corridor, there is a secret building most visitors miss. Inside one will find, on one side, yet another perfect zen garden and on the back, a view to the mountains. Lovingly, this room has tables prepared paper and ink for any visitor to practice calligraphy.
After all Kyoto’s palaces and temples, one could really feel the personal love that Okochi Sanso put into his own home.