4 Must-See Temples When Visiting Beautiful Kyoto

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  • Kyoto, an old and ancient Japanese capital city, nowadays is a modern city, but still has a spirit of old times. Kyoto just has that spirit of something magnificent. Kyoto breathes history and tradition. From these old buildings we can see how old Japanese history is, and how powerful this city was. Kyoto have more then 1,600 temples and it was hard to choose which ones are the best, but I have chosen these as the most outstanding.

    1. The Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji)


    The Golden Temple is one of the most famous Kyoto temples. It is a Buddhist temple that attracts many tourists every year. This temple is one of the oldest temples and is protected under UNESCO as a World Protected Heritage Site. It was founded in 1397, and this site was originally a villa that belonged to the Saionji family and was purchased by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Gradually it transformed into a temple. In the 15th century, the temple was burned down completely and was burned down again in 1950 by one monk who was later discovered to have a mental illness. The present temple dates back to 1955 when it was rebuilt. It is surrounded by a lake and gardens. Not even the crowds of tourist can ruin the Golden Temple’s undoubted splendor.

    It is open every day for visitors from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is 400 yen. From Kyoto Station you just need to take a bus to Kinkaku-ji Michi stop.

    Website*Japanese Only

    2. Kiyomizu-dera


    This temple is a Buddhist temple that also belongs to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in the eastern part of Kyoto and was founded during the Heian period in 778. Since its foundation, the temple was burned many times. The most recent rebuild was by a third Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in the Edo period (1631-1633). The main hall of the temple is considered a national treasure. The temple has many other important cultural properties such as the Deva gate, west gate, three-storied pagoda and bell tower. The most famous aspect is the main hall where the Eleven-Headed and Thousand Armed Kannon Bodhisattva (Bosatsu) is enshrined. Kiyomizu-dera (the temple of clean water) was named after Otowa Waterfall. The beauty of this temple is so vivid during the spring and autumn seasons.

    From Kyoto Station, there are a few bus lines that go to Kiyomizu-dera. If you take a bus, hop off at the stop called Kiyomizu-michi, and walk uphill from that stop.


    3. Fushimi Inari Shrine


    This temple is founded on a mountain that is 233 meters high. The name of the mountain is Inori, so the temple was given the same name. To visit this shrine includes a long path up to the mountain of many smaller shrines. This trail is almost 4 kilometers long, and what is interesting is that the entire trail up to the mountain is lined with thousands of torii (traditional Japanese gates). Each torii was given to the temple by a Japanese business. The earliest structures were built in 711, and the main shrine was built in 1499. At the bottom of the hill there is the main gate and shrine. In the middle of the mountain is the inner shrine and at the top are thousands of mounds for worshiping. From Kyoto Station, you will have to pay a 140 yen one-way bus ticket to the Fushimi Inari Shrine.


    4. Sanjusangen-do


    Sanjusangendo is a temple located in Higashiyama District of Kyoto. It is also called a ‘Hall of the Lotus King’. Famous samurai Taira no Kiyomori built the temple under the order of Emperor Go-Shirakawa in 1164. The temple has been burned few times and again rebuilt. An archery tournament was held here in the past where many warriors displayed their archery skills. The most notable thing about this temple is the Thousand Armed Kannon. It is one thousand statues of soldiers which stand on the left and right sides of the temple. Of all these, 124 statues are from the original temple, and the remaining 876 were made in the 13th century after the temple was rebuilt.

    Sanjusangen-do is located next to the Hakubutsukan-Sanjusangendo-mae bus stop. And it will take 10 minutes (230 yen) from Kyoto Station.

    Website*Japanese Only

    So there you go, these are the top 4 Kyoto ‘must-see’ temples that I have selected out of the many options available. Kyoto is a beautiful place that is more than worth the visit!

    Kyoto Travel Website

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