Kyoto Things to Do Tips by Rabbityama Top 5 Page for this destination
Kyoto Things to Do: 916 reviews and 2,205 photos
Rakushisha is a small and simple hut located in Arashiyama. The famous poet Matsuo Basho stayed here and wrote many famous haiku in his Saga Diary during his stay. The original builder of the house, Mukai Kyorai, a student of Basho who also wrote haiku. His grave is within the grounds of the hut. The building itself is open so that you can view inside from the outside. It's small, so there is not much to look at, but it's still an interesting place to stop for anyone exploring Arashiyama or fans of Basho.
Rakushisha is also famous for its persimmon trees. It gets quite busy in the autumn, because the persimmons are out and also because Arashiyama is a popular place for seeing autumn leaves.
Entrance is 200 yen.
Joshoji Temple was established in 1616 as a seminary for the Takagamin Danrin. At that time, the temple grounds were huge (over 30 buildings). Today, there are only a few buildings. This is not a problem, though, because the buildings are not what attracts visitors. Joshoji has cherry trees that are popular in the spring and many trees that turn colors in the autumn. I came as part of an autumn leaf visit to the area. The pathway leading to the temple is lined with trees that change colors. Actually, they are cherry trees, so they line the path with blossoms in the spring. They were donated in honor of Yoshino Tayu, a famous Kyoto courtesan who donated the temple's gate. There is a nice path leading downward behind the temple where you can view more leaves and nature. Many visitors either don't notice it's here or don't want to walk down, so it's peaceful and quiet.
Entrance is 300 yen.
Konpukuji Temple was founded in the 9th century but it became famous in 1670 when it was noted that the famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho stopped at a hut here. Less than 100 years later (in 1760) Buson, another haiku poet, was traveling in Kyoto and wanted to visit the place where Basho stayed. He couldn't find the location on his as it was not on any maps but some locals brought him here. By that time the hut had fallen into great disrepair, so Buson together with a priest rebuilt it. Buson died in 1783, and his grave is located within the temple grounds, just above the Basho-an (Basho's hut).
The temple itself features a small but nice zen garden. There are also some artifacts inside the temple that can be viewed. It's definitely a nice place to visit in conjunction with the other famous temples in the Shugakuin area, especially in the fall when the leaves are brightly colored.
Entrance is 300 yen.
Genkoan is a lesser-known famous temple in the northern area. It was built in 1694. The temple is known for its unique windows; one is round and the other is square. The round window is called the Window of Realization and it symbolizes everything zen. The square window is called the Window of Delusion which represents the life most humans live. The reason I say Genkoan is both lesser-known and famous is because many Japanese recognize the famous windows in images however, they often don't know its actual name. It's also not known by foreigners.
Another interesting feature of the temple is that the ceiling inside the hondo was built using the floorboards of Fushimi Momoyama Castle. The castle was the site of a massacre that took place during its seige so the wood was used in building various temples in hopes of appeasing the souls of the victims. You can tell the battle was brutal because of how abundant the blood stains are. There is even a distinct footprint of blood in one of the boards. I also saw a handprint.
There is also a landscape garden that you can view from the temple. The trees in the garden have made Genkoan a popular temple in the autumn. I waited until autumn to come here for that reason. It's a great temple anytime though!
Entrance is 400 yen.
Directions: Take bus Kita 1 from the Bus Terminal at Kitaoji Station to Takagamine-Genkoan-mae Stop.
Museum of School History
The Kyoto Municipal Museum of School History is an interesting museum with exhibits about the history of education in Kyoto and how school life has changed over time. The museum itself is located in a former school building. The museum begins with documents and information about people who were important in the development of education in Kyoto. It's probably the least interesting part for most visitors, but it moves on to show old diplomas and then gets even more interesting with displays of old textbooks.
The history moves forward with pictures and artifacts from the schools during World War II, as well as afterwords. From there, there are interesting displays of how school lunches have changed over time.
The rest of the museum (other area of the first floor and the second floor) contain the special exhibits. When I was there, they featured a variety of textbooks. I really enjoy seeing how the world was viewed and what values were promoted through education in the past so these were interesting to me. They featured pictures of foreign people as they viewed them (Europeans, Iranians, Peruvians), music books, etc. It's probably a good idea to see what the special exhibit will be during your visit.
I think this museum would be especially fascinating if you are able to come with older Japanese or Japanese from different generations. I'm sure the exhibits would spark a lot of interesting conversations and comparisons!
Entrance is 200 yen.
Shinnyodo Temple is a Tendai sect temple first built in the 10th century. The present buildings were rebuilt around the 17th century after being destroyed in the Onin War. The temple's Amida Statue was said to have instructed its creator to take it to Kyoto (from Enryakuji on Mount Hiei) in order to allow all people to receive salvation. The funny part of the story is that in spite of the statue's wishes, it was left at Enryakuji for many years until a priest was made aware of the request and sent it to Shinnyodo. The statue survived the war, so it's still here.
The temple is most famous today as one of Kyoto's great autumn leaf temples. There are many trees here that change colors, so a fall visit allows you to see vivid red leaves everywhere. I went when the leaves were falling which created beautiful red and yellow carpets of leaves.
Entrance is 500 yen.
Address: 82 Shinnyo-cho Jodo-ji Sakyo-ku
Toyokuni Shrine Screen
Toyokuni Shrine was built in honor of the former leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi, considered to be Japan's second great unifier. The shrine is famous for its gate which was actually built by Toyotomi himself at Fushimi Castle during the Momoyama Period. It was moved to this location later. It's now a National Treasure.
Aside from the gate, the shrine has a treasure house. The treasure house contains many artifacts from the Momoyama Period said to relate to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. There are chests, weapons, samurai armor, scrolls, and other objects. The painted screens are particularly famous.
The shrine grounds are free. The treasure house costs 300 yen to enter.
The Kodo, also known as Gyoganji, was originally built in 1004. The current structure dates back to 1815. The temple grounds are small with statues of the seven lucky gods and some other monuments and statues.
It is the 19th temple of the Saigoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage and has a Kannon statue. Truthfully, there isn't much to this temple, so it's likely only going to be of interest to those who are trying to complete the pilgrimage.
Entrance is free.
Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple is located in the northwest of Kyoto's Arashiyama area right. It's located along the same route as Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple but further down the road.
Otagi Nenbutsuji is was originally built in central Kyoto around the 8th century. It was destroyed by flooding. It was rebuilt in the 10th century and later moved to its current location in 1922. The gate and Nio statues date back to the Kamakura Period.
Although the structures have history, the real draw of the temple are the 1200 rakan statues. These were donated by people and groups from all over Japan from 1981 to 1991 and as a result, they're very animated. There are some wearing glasses, boxing, doing head-stands, etc. If you walk by a few times, you're bound to find something you missed before!
Entrance is 300 yen.
Address: 2-5 Fukatani-cho, Saga Toriimoto
Kajuji Temple was built by Emperor Daigo in southeast Kyoto in 900. Previously it was part of an estate. The temple features a beautiful pond nicknamed the "Ice House Pond". Every year on January 2 the imperial court took ice from the pond and the thickness was interpreted to determine the success of the following year's harvest.
These days, the pond is known for its beautiful lotus flowers that bloom in the summer. The view of the lotuses with the temple's pavillion is iconic. It's also nice in the fall when the leaves are changing.
Kajuji is not as well-known, so it is usually very peaceful with few people. Entrance is 400 yen.
Directions: Kajuji is about a 10 minute walk from Ono Station on the Subway Tozai Line.
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