Kyoto is home to some of the best temples and shrines in Japan, and it’s such a relaxing and spiritual place to visit. This week, I asked 5 travel bloggers for their favourite, and here are the best temples in Kyoto…
The Best Temples in Kyoto
Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto
By Kenny from Knycx Journeying: https://knycxjourneying.com
Out of all temples, pagodas, palaces and historic sites in the ancient city of Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera is probably the most famous and recognized attraction. The temple is connected to three busy shopping streets (or “zakas” in Japanese) – Gojo-zaka, chawan-zaka, and Shimizu New Way, the three paths are filled with gift shops, cafes and restaurants and the scenery changes through the seasons.
There are a lot of things to see and do in the temple: admire the magnificent architecture in the main hall, the Jishu Shine, and enjoy an unobstructed view of the Kyoto city at the balcony. Taste the water that flows from three separate streams at the Otowa Waterfall using cups attached to long poles, purchase lucky charms at the temple shop or find true love at the Okuninushi. Legend has it: if you could walk from one love stone in the shrine to the other one (18-meter apart) with your eyes closed, you will find true love.
The temple also celebrates the seasons and it is one of the best viewing spots of cherry blossoms in spring. I highly recommend sitting down at the Rokkatei and enjoy a bowl of udon and red bean soup as an early lunch (just to avoid the crowd at lunchtime).
Tenryuji Temple in Kyoto
By Anne Sutherland-Smith from Japan Travel Planning https://japantravelplanning.com/
Tenryuji Temple is the head temple for the Rinzau Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism and is located in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto and is registered as a World Heritage Site. It was first built in 1339 and through its existence it has been affected by eight major fires, which required rebuilding of the temple. The previous Zen meditation hall was the only surviving building from the 1864 fire, and was relocated to become the new lecture hall and Buddha hall. Reconstruction of Tenryuji Temple was completed in 1924.
Tenryuji is surrounded by an amazing landscape garden, which unlike the building has survived for many centuries. When you visit it is amazing to stroll around the extensive gardens and explore each building as you find them. You may not realise that a garden entry gate to Tenryuji Temple is located right beside the very famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, so a great option is to arrive early to explore the bamboo grove before the crowds arrive then enter Tenryuji Garden via the North Gate when it opens at 8.30 am, again before it gets busy. From there you can explore the gardens before visiting the buildings of the Temple.
Tenryuji Temple is located on the north west side of Kyoto and you can easily get there from Kyoto Station, either by bus or by JR train to Saga-Arashiyama Station.
Gingakuji Temple Kyoto
By Jerny Destacamento from The Jerny – Travel and Inspirations https://thejerny.com
One of the greatest temples we have visited in Kyoto was the Gingakuji Temple. It’s also known as “The Silver Pavillion” and one of the best zen temples there is in the area. The Gingakuji Temple is also one of the most visited temples in Kyoto, next to Kinkakuji Temple and Daikakuji Temple.
It is enjoyed by strolling along the circular route around its surroundings, from which the gardens and buildings can be viewed especially when you are in Kimono attire. During autumn, the temple is surrounded by colorful leaves, and when it’s spring, the temple is abundant with cherry blossoms. Next to Gingakuji Temple is the famous Philosopher’s Path where a stream is nearby and fenced with cherry blossoms making another great area for walking.
To get to the Gingakuji Temple from Kyoto Station, ride Bus # 5, or Bus # 17, or Bus # 100 and drop-off directly to Gingakuji-michi. Travel time will be around 35 to 40 minutes and costs 230 Yen per way. From there, you can walk to the temple. Admission fee is 500 Yen per person and is open from 8:30 to 17:00 daily. If you want to visit as many temples as you want in a day, you buy a One Day Bus pass at the station.
Saiho-ji Temple Kyoto
James Ian at Travel Collecting – Travel Collecting
Saiho-ji (also called Koke-dera – the Moss Temple) is a Buddhist temple most famous for its moss garden. The moss grew here naturally over 200 years ago when the temple was abandoned and flooded. Nowadays, it is one of the most beautiful gardens in Kyoto. At the center of the garden is a lake in the shape of the Japanese kanji (Chinese character) for the word “heart”. In order to make this shape, there are three tiny islands strategically placed in the middle of the lake. The garden has plenty of trees to create shade and keep the moss cool and moist. There are also some tiny teahouses under the trees near the lake.
The temple is not easy to visit. You need to apply by mail at least a month in advance, using a special self-addressed return postcard that is unavailable in many countries. If you live in Japan, it is easy to get this at the post office. If you are visiting from abroad, the easiest thing is to ask your hotel in Kyoto to help you. There are set visiting times. Take the returned postcard with you, as this is your “ticket”. You pay the entrance fee when you arrive.
Before you can visit the garden, you need to participate in a “ritual activity” in the temple. This varies, but may include Buddhist chanting or copying the “heart sutra” (in Japanese). You may not know what you’re writing, but it’s a fun introduction to Japanese calligraphy.
Saiho-ji is definitely not your usual ‘walk in and look around’ temple; it is a multi-faceted experience!
Fushimi Inari Shrine
By Sally Lucas from Our 3 Kids v The World – our3kidsvtheworld.com
Kyoto is the cultural centre of Japan and while it is very popular with foreign tourists it is also very popular with Japanese tourists due to the culture and historical significance that Kyoto is famous for. Kyoto was where we spent the least amount of time but it was by far my favourite place in Japan. A highlight of my visit was definitely Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto Shrine based at the bottom of Mt Inari with trails lined by bright red torii gates that go up the mountain to various smaller Shrines, to reach the top will take approximately 2 hours.
The torii gates known as Senbon torii line the path from the bottom of the Shrine to approximately halfway up. The custom is to donate a torii gate in the hope that a wish will come true or a thank you for a wish that come true. There are approximately 1000 torii gates located about a metre apart. There are also many fox statues along the path, they are regarded as the messengers and you’ll find foxes at many Inari Shrines.
We visited Fushimi Inari Shrine at 8.30am in the morning, its a very busy Shrine and if you arrive anytime after 10am, you will be walking the path up the mountain with many other people. We climbed Mt Inari to about 500m from the top, this enabled us to get some brilliant images of torii gates without other people in them, however we were not alone, even that early there were plenty of people around.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is located directly in front of Fushimi Inari Station, we travelled from Kyoto Station and it was very straight forward on the train system. Japanese people dress very respectfully and so should you when visiting any temple or shrine in Japan.
Adashino Temple in Kyoto
By Alex Waltner, The Swedish Nomad – https://www.swedishnomad.com
Adashino Temple is one of my favorite places in Kyoto, and you have probably never heard of this place before. There are two special things about Adashino that stands out, and that is the small bamboo forest where you can enjoy it without the crowds. Only a few tourists know about this place, and most people just visit the main bamboo forest.
The other cool thing about Adashino Temple is the cemetery, which is quite fascinating. The full name of the temple is Adashino Nenbutsu-ji, and here you can admire 8000 Buddha statues.
While walking around the temple, you will certainly feel the real Kyoto vibes that you probably imagine before visiting after seeing and reading about this ancient city. If you want to see some traditional houses, make sure to stop on the way at Saga-Toriimoto street.
Adashino Temple is a resting place for thousands of souls that have been buried here from as early as the 8th century. To get here I recommend using Google Maps, as it is about 20 minutes walk from the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. You can also get a pulled rickshaw taxi to the temple if you want to transport yourself as they did back in historical Kyoto. It is a Buddhist temple, so you are expected to show common courtesy, dress modestly and be quite and respectful as always in Japanese temples.
The Entrance fee is only 500 Yen, which is about 5 USD. Opening hours are from 9:00 a.m – 4:30 p.m. You don’t have to come here early to enjoy it since only a few foreigners know about this temple. Most visitors are Japanese tourists or School children from Kyoto.
Kinkaku-ji Temple Kyoto
By Jess from unearththevoyage.com
There are so many different amazing temples to visit in Kyoto such as the “Red Gates Temple” but one of the best temples to visit while spending time in Kyoto has got to be Kinkaku-ji. Kinkaku-ji literally translates to “temple of the golden pavilion” and the temple is a beautiful gold-colored building perched on the side of a shiny lake right in the center of the historic town of Kyoto. The temple gets its’ name from having the top two floors being completely covered in gold leaf!
Kinkaku-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple and has some pretty interesting history behind it. The temple dates all the way back to 1397 when the complex was bought and a couple of years later it was turned into a zen complex. The temple was burned down numerous times throughout history and the most recent rebuild was in 1955.
When visiting a Buddhist Japanese temple in Japan, it is a good idea to show your respect by bowing slightly and throwing a coin in an offering box. There are numerous ways to get to Kinkaku-ji temple such as taking a taxi, the bus, or the metro. If taking a bus, take bus number 102 or 205. If taking the metro- take Karasuma Line to Kitaoji Station and take a taxi or bus (number 101, 102, 204, 205 from there.
If you enjoyed this blog on the Best Temples in Kyoto, you might also like to check out the best Kyoto Tours.