Attraction Daitoku-ji, 53 Murasakino Daitokujicho Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8231 Japan Published on: 29-02-2016
|1 hours 30 mins|
|09:00 AM - 05:00 PM|
Temple & Monument
Daitoku-ji Temple Complex is good for
- Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
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Why Daitoku-ji Temple Complex is special ?
Daitokuji is a large walled temple complex in northern Kyoto and the head temple of the Rinzai sect's Daitokuji school of Japanese Zen Buddhism. The complex consists of nearly two dozen subtemples and is one of the best places in Japan to see a wide variety of Zen gardens and to experience Zen culture and architecture.
Daitokuji was founded in 1319 and like most of Kyoto suffered severe damage during the Onin War (1467-1477). After its reconstruction, the temple grew into a center of the tea ceremony and became associated with tea master Sen no Rikyu, as well as the warlords Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, both of whom were fond tea ceremony practitioners. Oda Nobunaga's grave is located at Sokenin, one of Daitokuji's sub-temples that is not regularly open to the public.
What to explore at Daitoku-ji Temple Complex?
Daitokuji's main buildings are lined up on the east side of the temple grounds according to the classical layout of a Zen monastery. They are not usually open to the public; however visitors may view into the interior of the Butsuden. The main buildings are surrounded by nearly two dozen sub-temples, many of which were added to the complex by feudal lords from across Japan. Four of the sub-temples are regularly open to the public, while some of the others have temporary special openings.
The most celebrated among the sub-temples is Daisenin, the head of the North School of Daitokuji and open to the public around the year. Daisenin features beautiful rock gardens, which wrap around the temple building and are considered among of the best examples of their kind. Another important sub-temple open to the public is Ryogenin, the headquarters of the South School of Daitokuji. Ryogenin features as many as five different dry landscape gardens on each side of its main building. The largest of them consists of a field of raked white gravel representing the universe, and islands of rocks and moss representing a crane and a turtle, symbols of longevity and health commonly found in Japanese gardens. Kotoin is another interesting and popular sub-temple that is open year around. Kotoin is famous for its maple trees which form a vaulted canopy over the temple approach. Despite being the smallest of the regularly open sub-temples, Zuihoin has an equally rich history as the other sub-temples of Daitokuji. The temple's main garden features gravel raked in distinct, high peaked patterns evoking the image of rough seas, and is set with islands of sharp stones and moss that appear off in the distance. The garden to the rear of the main building has stones laid out in the pattern of a crucifix.
How to get to Daitoku-ji Temple Complex?
Daitokuji is located next to Daitokuji-mae bus stop (45 minutes, 230 yen by bus numbers 101, 205 or 206 from Kyoto Station) or a five minute walk from Kitaoji-Horikawa bus stop (30 minutes, 230 yen by bus number 9 from Kyoto Station). Alternatively, you can take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station (13 minutes, 260 yen) from where you can reach the temple in a short bus ride (230 yen) or a 15 minute walk.
- Variety and Exquisiteness
- Hidden gem out of the tourist circus
- Most beautiful Zen gardens
- Multiple temples in one location
- A Zen Buddhist complex not to miss in Kyoto
Daitoku-ji, 53 Murasakino Daitokujicho Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8231 Japan
Tips for you
If you don’t know what to do first, the staff gives you a plate with English explanations so you know where to see the details. Because photography is strictly prohibited, you have to leave your camera in a bag at the reception. But don’t worry; the staff will take care of it and return when you finish your trip.Service
The closing time of four sub-temples is different, while Daisenin and Zuihoin closes at 5:00pm, Ryogenin and Kotoin closes around 4:00 pm – 4:30pm. The admission fee of the temple complex is free but you have to buy ticket for sub-temples. The entrance ticket of sub-temples is difference and depended in each temple (around JPY 350 – JPY 400). The Kotoin temple in this complex can closes on several irregular days in year.Timming
There are a number of temples in this location, many only opened for special occasions. My favorite temple her was the Zen Daisen-In temple. You pay 500 yen to go inside and tour. While there were no English tours, they do give you an English guide so that you can read about each section of the Zen gardens that you visit. This temple has the traditional dry gardens with the raked gravel in various waves and with rocks symbolizing turtles, birds etc to show man's relationship with nature. I found this very interesting and would recommend this Zen garden and temple for a visit. Unfortunately at this site you need to pay for many of the separate temples if you want to go inside. Don't forget to remove your shoes and be quiet on your visit. No cameras allowed inside.
It is free to enter the complex but to visit individual schools it is ¥400 each. Beautiful hidden gardens.