Attraction 33 Omuroouchi Ukyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8092 Japan Published on: 28-02-2016
|09:00 AM - 05:00 PM|
Temple & Monument
Ninna-ji Temple is good for
- Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
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Why Ninna-ji Temple is special ?
Ninnaji (仁和寺) is one of the many great temples in Kyoto which are listed as World Heritage Sites. It is the head temple of the Omuro School of the Shingon sect of Buddhism and was founded in 888 by the reigning emperor. Over many centuries, a member of the Imperial Family used to serve as Ninnaji's head priest, and the temple was also known as Omuro Imperial Palace.
Due to the many wars and fires that ravaged Kyoto throughout its history, 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, including the main hall (Kondo), the Kannon Hall, the Niomon front gate, the Chumon inner gate and the five storied pagoda.
A pond and rock garden beside the temple's former palace buildings (Goten)
The highlight of a visit to Ninnaji is the Goten, the former residence of the head priest in the southwestern corner of the temple complex. Built in the style of an imperial palace, the graceful buildings are connected with each other by covered corridors, feature elegantly painted sliding doors (fusuma) and are surrounded by beautiful rock and pond gardens.
Ninnaji is also famous for a grove of locally cultivated, late blooming cherry trees called Omuro Cherries. Because the trees are late blooming, Ninnaji is a good place to visit towards the end of Kyoto's cherry blossom season, which is usually around mid April.
What to explore at Ninna-ji Temple?
Walking through the huge Nio-mon Gate, you are on a long, long approach to the red Chu-mon Gate. Pass through Chu-mon and you will find a wide section of the temple that includes Kondo Hall, Shoro Tower, and the Five-story Pagoda. A famous type of very short cherry tree called OmuroZakura can also be found in this section of the temple. These trees tend to bloom much later than ordinary cherry trees.
But now, let's go back to the first gate, Nio-mon Gate. This temple's amazing corridors are inside Omuro Palace. After coming in through Nio-mon Gate, there is a small gate on the left. That is where you want to go.
Beautiful wooden corridors connecting four main buildings are arranged in a kind of zigzag pattern. If you follow the fixed route, you will see in this order: Shiro-shoin (reception room) and South Garden (the type of aristocratic gardens mentioned above), Shinden Hall (ceremony room), Kuro-shoin (living space) and Reimei-den Hall (prayer chapel) facing North Garden (a typical temple garden). These corridors are not only passageways, but also extensions of each room, where we can enjoy the gardens by stopping and sitting in the middle of the corridor. Depending on where we are, the same garden can look and feel very different. So, please go at a leisurely pace and enjoy yourself here.
How to get to Ninna-ji Temple?
To get to Ninna-ji from Kyoto station, take the JR subway to Karasuma-Oike Station and change to the Tozai line. Go as far as Uzumasa-Tenjingawa/Randen-Tenjingawa (it has two names), and then change to the Keifuku Dentetsu-Arashiyama line. Take that line as far as Katabiranotsuji and then take the Keifuku Dentetsu-Kitano Line as far as Omuro-Ninna-ji. That’s three changes over 46 minutes for 610 yen.
To get to Ninna-ji from the town center take the Hankyu line from Kawaramachi to Sai, then change to the Keifuku Dentetsu-Arashiyama line. Take that line as far as Katabiranotsuji and then take the Keifuku Dentetsu-Kitano Line as far as Omuro-Ninna-ji. That’s two changes over 45 minutes for 360 yen.
- Good during Cherry Blossom Season
- Cherry blossom park is a highlight
- Intensely, quietly spectacular
- Beautiful gardens
- Imperial Palace Style Hokutei Garden
33 Omuroouchi Ukyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8092 Japan
Tips for you
The ground is nice and contains many temples and a pagoda but the best for you is the palace (entrance fee) where you can sit and relax, taking it all in. You should walk over to the tall pavilion off to the right and get a picture in front of it. The visit highlight is the Goten, the former residence of the head priest.Things to do
Ninna-ji Temple (仁和寺) is located northwest of Kyoto station, about 9 km (5.6 mi) by car. Ninna-ji Temple is one of the more well-known temples and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original temple began its construction under Emperor Kōkō (光孝天皇, 58th emperor of Japan) south of the Mt. Ouchiyama (大內山) in 886 of the early Heian period (平安時代) and was completed by his son Emperor Uda (宇多天皇) in 888, who named it Ninna. As a tradition in that era (888 to 1869), Emperor Uda became the first Monzeki (門跡 or aristocratic priest) of Ninna-ji after he retired. Ninna-ji is the head temple of the Omuro School of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. Current temple was restored in the 17th century, as the original was burned down by fire and war. The day we went was a sunny day and after we had visited Ryoanji (龍山寺). First, we entered the large Niomon gate (二王門) just beside the major busy road, which is unusual. There are two fierce devas, AgyoNio&UngyoNio, guarding the Niomon gate. The most important buildings are on our left after passing the Niomon gate. The Goten (御殿) is the one you need to pay to enter. It is worth a visit. Inside, we found that many buildings were connected by the covered wooden corridors. We saw lots of pleasingly painted sliding doors, decorations, and furniture in those buildings. You can find paintings of the four seasons, which showed the Japanese people's respect and appreciation for nature. The famous Shinden (宸殿) building overlooks the south garden and north garden. The south Nantei garden is the dry garden and is made up of small white stones. The north Hokutei garden was built as an imperial palace style. This beautiful garden with water and trees sure makes an unforgettable visit. After the Goten, past the Chu-Mon gate (中門), we went through the Five-Storied Pagoda (五重塔), Kon-do (金堂), Kannon-do (觀音堂), Bell Tower (鐘樓) and other buildings. Ninnaji Temple is near other famous temples, such as Kinkakuji Temple (金閣寺) and Ryoanji Temple (龍安寺) which are all within walking distance of Ninnaji. Ninnaji opens daily from 9 am to 5 pm (March to November) and 9 am to 4:30 pm (December to February). The admission is 500 yen for Shinden and 500 yen during Cherry blossom season. You can take Kyoto City Bus No. 26 from Kyoto Station to Omuro-Ninna-ji station (御室仁和寺), which takes about 41 minutes.
This is the Temple we preferred among the most known. It closes at 5 so I suggest to go there at least 45 minutes before, to have time to enjoy buildings and gardens.