Kinkakuji (Rokuonji)Temple (Golden Pavilion)
UNESCO World Heritage Sites are said to "represent a masterpiece of human creative genius" and have "outstanding universal value." The variety, historical span and sheer number of World Heritage Sites in Kyoto is unrivaled in Japan. Nijo-jo Castle and the sixteen temples and shrines below were selected as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1994. For over thirty five years the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has sought to name, catalog, and preserve the natural and man-made treasures of humanity.
* Alphabetical order *
- Byodoin Temple
This temple was converted from a Fujiara villa into a Buddhist temple in 1052. The "Phoenix Hall" (Houou-do), more properly known as the Amida-do, was built in 1053 and is the only original building remaining.
The main hall of Byodo-in Temple was built to emulate Buddha's palace in paradise, and the temple is indeed otherworldly. Its graceful lines and warm colors give the building the appearance of a majestic bird spreading its wings. It is popularly known as the "Phoenix Hall," and when seen with its reflection on the large pond in front, it almost appears to be gliding above the earth. This view is one of the most famous in Japan, and it has been replicated on back of the 10 yen coin.
- Daigoji Temple
Daigo-ji Temple, a World Heritage Site, spreads across Daigo-san Mountain and is well-known as the "Temple of Flowers". In 874, Godai Hall was built at the top of the mountain by Buddhist monk Shobo. Later, the garan (main complex), small buildings, and five-story pagoda were constructed at the foot of the mountain. The five-story pagoda, Goju-no-to is now the oldest building in Kyoto having survived the Onin War in the 1400's.
On the second Sunday in April, a feast is held to commemorate a famous cherry blossom viewing party held 1598 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who helped to rebuild the damaged buildings.
- Enryakuji Temple
Enraku-ji Temple is said to be one of the main spiritual centers of Japanese culture. An ancient monastery complex atop Mt. Hiei-zan, it is a richly atmospheric place with old temples and artifacts, misty ravines and towering cedars, and a long, fascinating history. It is a marvelous place to visit, combining choice hiking (and great views) with a chance to explore an important site of Japanese history.
- Ginkakuji(Jisyoji)Temple (Silver Pavilion)
Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion) is the more common name for Jisho-ji Temple, a temple belonging to the Buddhist Shokoku School of the Rinzai Zen sect.
Ginkaku-ji Temple (The Silver Pavilion) is an elegant temple set in beautiful grounds at the foot of Kyoto's eastern mountains. Originally designed as a retirement villa for the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa in the Muromachi Period (1392 - 1573), Ginkaku-ji Temple was modeled on its sister temple Kinkaku-ji Temple (the Golden Pavilion). Yet Ginkaku-ji Temple was never gilded in silver, and the main temple building remains an unpainted brown--and in its way, exemplifies the Japanese idea that something plain can be beautiful.
- Kamigmo-jinja(Kamowakeikazuchi–jinja) Shrine
This shrine, also named "Kamowakeikazuchi-jinja", is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, dating back to the 7th century and predating the establishment of Heian-kyo (Kyoto).
An example is the annual Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Fetival), which features a long parade of people in costumes of different historical periods. The parade culminates at the shrine where the Emperor's representative reads a message from the Emperor and stands in for him to pray. The Aoi Matsuri is one of the three major festivals in Kyoto and should not be missed.
- 【Acccess】City Bus Stop Kamigmo-jinja-mae
(from Keihan Railway Demachiyanagi Station and Subway Kitayama Station)
5-minute walk from City Bus Stop Kamigamo misonobashi (from Hankyu Railway Kawaramachi Station and Keihan Railway Demachiyanagi, Sanjo Stations and Subway Kitaoji Station and Kyoto Station)
- Kinkakuji (Rokuonji)Temple (Golden Pavilion)
The image of the temple richly adorned in gold leaf reflects beautifully in the water of Kyokochi, the mirror pond.
It is perhaps the most widely-recognized image of Kyoto. Seen reflected in the adjoining "mirror pond" with its small islands of rock and pine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion," is a breathtaking must-see.
The building's first purpose was to serve the retiring Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1409) as a residence. The gold-leaf-adorned building was converted into a Zen temple shortly after his death. In an event that was later fictionalized by the renowned author Yukio Mishima, a 21-year-old monk burned Kinkakuji down in 1950. The temple was rebuilt in 1955 and continues to function as a storehouse of sacred relics.
The temple's garden is also a scenic delight and contains in its grounds a charming teahouse.
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple
The expression "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression "to take the plunge".
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is perhaps the most beloved of Kyoto's temples and is a fixture in the minds of the Japanese people. The temple's veranda juts out of the side of a mountain supported by 13-meter-high wooden columns. The main hall with its distinctive hip-shaped roof of cypress bark rests to the rear of the veranda and houses within it a priceless statue of Kannon Bodhisattva, the goddess of mercy. From the veranda, one can appreciate fine views facing west over the city of Kyoto. This is an auspicious place to watch the sunset, which may also explain the romantic associations accorded to the temple.
- 【Acccess】10-minute walk from City Bus Stop Gojozaka (from Keihan Shichijo Station and JR Kyoto Station) / 10-minute walk from City Bus Stop Kiyomizu-michi (from Keihan Shijo Station/Hankyu Kawaramachi Station) / 25-minute walk from Keihan Gojo Station / 10-minute walk from City Bus Stop Higashiyama-gojo
- Nijojo Castle
A house in Kyoto of Ieyasu Tokugawa. National treasure / the outworks of a castle palace is the stage of the Restoration of the Imperial rule; a painting on a folding screen and wall is gorgeous, too.
- Ninnaji Temple
Ninna-ji Temple has it all - an exquisite five-storey pagoda, a massive main gate, delightful landscape gardens (with ponds, bridges, and old stones), raked gravel gardens, teahouses, and beautiful halls for prayer and residence. It is famous for its late-blooming cherry trees which draw hosts of admirers every year. It is a grand example of the natural harmony which marks so many Japanese Buddhist temples.
- Nishi-Honganji Temple
Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple is designed to impress. The finest example of Momoyama-era(1568-1598) architecture in Kyoto, the temple features large buildings, elaborate gates with gold trim, gilded altars, painted statues, and a host of other items deemed National Treasures, including the oldest Noh stage in Japan.
- Kokedera(Saihoji) Temple
Visiting Saiho-ji Temple is a unique experience which affords one the opportunity to view a garden of rare beauty in a temple which preserves a serene and dignified atmosphere. Saiho-ji Temple is also known as "Koke-dera Temple," which means "Moss Temple," and the temple's luxuriant mossy growth is its claim to fame. Over 120 types of moss are present in the two-In an effort to protect the moss from being trampled by too many visitors, the temple has adopted a restricted admission policy. Aspiring visitors must write to the temple in advance to request a reservation. Ask your hotel for advice on applying for admission. On arrival, visitors are treated to a meditation and sutra-chanting service, and then given a 90-minute tour of the garden. If you are fortunate to acquire a reservation, your visit to Koke-dera Temple will no doubt leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
- Kozanji Temple
Kozan-ji Temple stands in a mountain forest. Towering cedar trees line the path to the temple and admit shafts of sunlight to the moss-covered ground. A quiet and secluded place, Kozan-ji's charm lies in its atmosphere. The grounds also hold the oldest tea field in Japan, which was planted by Myoe with seeds he received from the priest Eisai, who brought them back from China. Tea was used to help monks stay awake during late-night meditation.
The temple's treasures also include the "Choju Jinbutsu Giga" ("The Scroll of Frolicking Animals and Humans") a famous painting featuring frogs, monkeys, birds, and rabbits engaged in worldly pursuits. Sometimes described as Japan's first comic, this brush painted scroll satirizes human foibles.
- Ryoanji Temple
It is Japan's most famous "hiraniwa" (flat garden void of hills or ponds) and reveals the stunning simplicity and harmony of the principles of Zen meditation.
Ryoan-ji Temple is famous for its mysterious rock garden, the most celebrated in Japan, which defies attempts at explanation. Enclosed by an earthen wall, fifteen carefully placed rocks seem to drift in a sea of raked white gravel. A viewing platform right above the garden gives visitors an unimpeded view, although from whatever angle you view the garden, you can never see all fifteen stones.
After sitting and pondering the garden's "sermon in stone," you can stretch your legs by touring the extensive grounds of Ryoan-ji Temple, which includes larger gardens with trees and moss, and the Kyoyo-chi pond, which is particularly striking in autumn. Once refreshed, you can return to the rock garden for another look before leaving.
- Shimogamo-jinja(Kamomioya-jinja) Shrine
Shimogamo-jinja Shrine, also known as Kamomioya-jinja Shrine, is the family shrine of the Kamo clan, who inhabited this area before the transfer of the capital.
The grounds of Shimogamo contain beautiful vermillion-colored wooden buildings, curving bridges over the little streams, and several smaller shrines. Shimogamo-jinja Shrine is the sister shrine of Kamigamo-jinja, which lies a few kilometers north, and together the two Shrines sponsor the annual Aoi Matsuri, a parade of people in period costume that is one of Kyoto's three big annual festivals and a must-see if you are in the city on May 15th.
- Tenyruji Temple
Tenyru-ji is a major temple of the Rinzai School. It was built in 1339 on the former site of Emperor Go-Daigo's villa after a priest dreamt of a dragon rising from the nearby river.
The main attraction of Tenryu-ji Temple is the Zen garden dating back to the 14th century. A triumph of design, the garden features a large pond which catches the reflection of the maple trees and large rough-cut rocks on the periphery. It also makes use of "borrowed scenery" from the nearby hills of Arashiyama, which appear to be the next tier of the garden. Many elements of this garden were prototypes for later gardens built elsewhere.
Visitors can also sample the temple's Zen vegetarian cuisine, known as "shojin ryori."
- Toji Temple
The Kobo-san market fair is held here on the 21st of each month.
The 5-story 57 meter high pagoda has long served as a city landmark and a vibrant center for spiritual and community life. On the 21st of each month, a large flea market is held on the grounds of To-ji Temple, drawing vendors from all over Japan. Handicrafts, antique clothing and furniture, children's toys, plants and food are available in abundance.
- Ujigami-jinja Shrine
Ujigami-jinja Shrine is a remnant of the distant past, the oldest extant shrine in Japan. It is a quiet place, located across the Uji-gawa River from Byodo-in Temple (another UNESCO World-Heritage site), and next to the more elaborate Uji-jinja Shrine. A visit to Uji can comfortably include all three sites.
On entering the shrine grounds you will see a basin, which is fed by a famous freshwater spring. This water is used in tea ceremonies and is held to have special properties, being among the "Seven best waters of Uji."