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Why Kotoin is special ?
Kotoin is another interesting and popular subtemple that opens year around. It was built in 1601 by Hosokawa Tadaoki, a successful commander who fought for all three unifiers of Japan, Oda Nobunaga, ToyotomiHideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, and took part in many of the famous battles and campaigns of the era. He and his wife are buried at Kotoin, along with Izumo no Okuni, the founder of kabuki.
Kotoin is famous for its maple trees which form a vaulted canopy over the temple approach. The maples are also found extensively throughout Kotoin's tea garden and are used with sparse simplicity in the temple's tranquil moss garden. The leaves are particularly spectacular around the second half of November when they usually reach the peak of their autumnal beauty.
What to explore at Kotoin?
The temple fame comes from its maples that produce beautiful colours in autumn. The long and narrow path from the temple gates to its main buildings is a very popular photo opportunity in autumn. Interestingly, that part of the temple can be accessed without charge. Anyone interested in shooting there should arrive at the right time of the season, and at least one hour before the temple's official opening time as the front gates open earlier. As you can imagine, the long path does not know more than 30 seconds without people for the rest of the day.
After this path and a smaller gate the visitor enters the temple itself. After the entrance the main hall and renowned garden is on the left. Expect to see people queuing at the entrance before the opening time and running to the main hall to take this "Koto-in nobody" moment you only see in magazines
The main garden is a simple flat moss surface with a single lantern and several maples cropping out. The background is mostly bamboos. At the north end of the hall you will find slippers that allow you to walk in the garden (but not on the moss!). There you will find the tomb of Hosokawa and his wife, as well as a very nice tsukubai basin (蹲) which, in autumn, is covered with maple leaves.
After strolling in the garden you can go back to the entrance and explore the right side of the temple (which you may have seen during your stroll). At the end of all the corridors is the small but beautiful tea room of the temple.
How to get to Kotoin?
5min walk from Daitokuji-mae Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 101 or 204 or 205 or 206 from Kitaoji Station, Karasuma subway line.
- Spectacular & Quaint Temple
- A tranquil place to enjoy fall foliage
- Favorite spot in Kyoto
- Very sacred and peaceful place
- Peaceful beauty amongst Kyoto
Japan 〒603-8231 京都府京都市北区紫野大徳寺町７３
Tips for you
Koto-in is a sub-temple in the complex of Zen Buddhist temples called Daitokuji, in Kyoto. It was founded in 1601 by a Japanese warrior who has fought many battles of his time. He is buried there together with other famous Japanese people, including the one that was the founder of traditional Japanese theatre Kabuki. It was my favourite of the four temples of the complex open to visitors when I was there. It is surrounded by a bamboo forest and other trees, specially maple trees, for what is suppose to be famous. The entrance gives you already this feeling of entering a calm place. It has an area were people sit just to contemplate nature around the temple and to meditate.