Arashiyama Temples Kyoto
- Tenryuji Temple
- Adashino Nembutsiji
- Otagi Nembutsuji
- Arashiyama & Sagano Map
- Kyoto Area Guides
Arashiyama Temples 嵐山
The Arashiyama and Sagano district of western Kyoto has a number of interesting and historic temples.
Arashiyama's temples are worth visiting at any time of the year but especially in spring and fall for their sakura cherry blossom and flaming autumn leaves.
Escape the crowds by visiting early in the morning or at about 3.30 pm on weekdays.
Tenryuji Temple, Arashiyama, Kyoto
Tenryuji Temple, Arashiyama
Tenryuji Temple 天龍寺
Tenryuji Temple is a major Zen Buddhist temple, and the area's biggest and most important. Tenryuji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tenryuji is also the temple nearest Togetsukyo Bridge on the Sagano (north) side of Arashiyama. Tenryuji dates from the Muromachi period in Japan's 14th-16th century.
Among Tenryuji's many attractions is the Sogenchi pond and garden - the only original feature of the temple that has survived the centuries - designed by the famous priest and garden designer, Muso Soseki.
Tenryuji Hours: 8.30 am-5.30 pm March 21-October 20, 8.30 am-5 pm October 21-March 20.
Admission: different attractions in Tenryuji require separate admission fees.
Sogenchi Pond and Hyakkaen Garden: 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for school age children.
Ohojo, Shoin, Tahodo halls: a 300 yen surcharge on the above fees.
Jojakkoji Temple, Arashiyama
Gate, Jojakkoji Temple, Arashiyama
Jojakkoji Temple 常寂光寺
Jojakkoji Temple, the pretty "temple with no walls," is on the slopes of Mt. Ogura and dates from the late-16th/early 17th century.
The serenity, feeling of remoteness, maple trees and mossy grounds make for a special, untouched atmosphere. Its few but charming structures include a thatched roof gate house and a pagoda.
The sloping grounds include several spots with very good views of the surrounding Arashiyama/Sagano/Mt. Ogura area.
Jojakkoji hours: 9 am-5 pm (last entry 4.30 pm) 7 days a week; admission 400 yen.
Nison-in Temple, Arashiyama
Nison-in Temple 二尊院
Nison-in Temple is another hillside temple about 15 minutes walk north up from Tenryuji Temple. It is most worth visiting in June for its hydrangeas and in fall for its spectacular fiery-colored foliage.
Nison-in dates from the mid-9th century. Its name means "two revered images" in Japanese, referring to the twin Buddhist statues in the main temple hall, of Shaka Nyorai and Amitabha Tathagata. History buffs will be interested in the temple's cemetery, in which are interred the ashes of many emperors and nobles.
Nison'in hours: 9 am-4.30 pm, 7 days a week; admission 500 yen.
Gioji Temple, Arashiyama, Kyoto
Gioji Temple 祇王寺
Gioji ("ghee-OH-jee") is a small temple of interest in that it is a Buddhist nunnery - with a story. Gioji is all that survives of the formerly huge Ojo-in Temple.
In 1868 it became a branch temple of Daikakuji Temple, just over a kilometer away to the north-east. According to legend, Gio, after whom the temple is named, was a dancer jilted by a noble, who then retired here as a nun.
This story, the beautiful mossy compound, the thatched roofs and the serenity are Gioji's biggest charms.
Hours: 9 am-5 pm (last entry 4.30 pm); admission: 300 yen for adults, 100 yen for school age. However, for 600 yen you can buy a ticket to visit both Gioji and nearby Daikakuji (25 minute walk from here and 500 yen to visit by itself.)
Adashino Nembutsuji Temple, Arashiyama, Kyoto
Adashino Nembutsuji Temple 化野念仏寺
Adashino Nembutsuji Temple is at the end of Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street and is notable for its roughly 8,000 statues of the Buddha collected from all around the area at the beginning of the 20th century.
In the Heian era the dead were left here for the elements to reclaim, with just one of these small statues of the Buddha (nenbutsu) to memorialize them. The temple's sento-kuyo ("1,000 Lights") event in late August is spectacular for its nighttime lighting up of the statues with candles.
Adashino Nembutsuji Temple is said to have been founded in the 9th century by one of Japan's most well-known Buddhist teachers, Kukai (774–835). It has its own bamboo grove. Be warned that photography is not permitted within the temple grounds.
Hours: 9 am-5 pm (last entry at 4.30 pm); December-February 9 am-4 pm (last entry 3.30 pm), 7 days a week; admission 500 yen for adults, 400 yen for high school age, free for elementary school age and below.
A small selection of the 1200 unique statues of Rakan at Otagi Nembutsuji Temple
Otagi Nembutsuji Temple 愛宕念仏寺
Otagi Nembutsuji Temple is another ancient temple, dating from the 8th century, some minutes walk on from Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street. Ancient as it is, its biggest attraction is its recently created collection of rakan (an arhat, one who has attained nirvana).
Over 1,200 mossy stone carvings of rakan, many with a humorous twist, inhabit the temple grounds. Because each is unique, together they transmit a very "human" vibe. The project was the work of a sculptor monk who oversaw the creation by amateurs of the statues as part of a temple renovation effort in the 1980's.
There is a golden Kokuzo Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of Space, on the grounds, but the Fureai Kannon Hall's chubby-cheeked, beneficent-looking Buddha has more charm. Otagi Nembutsuji Temple's grounds are beautiful year-round.
Hours: 8 am-5 pm (last entry 4.45 pm), 7 days a week; admission 300 yen (free for junior high school age and below).
Daikakuji was originally an Imperial villa or "Detached Palace" of the Emperor Saga (786-842 AD), later becoming a temple in the ninth century as the Emperor of that time wished to show his dedication to the Shingon sect of Buddhism and its founder Kukai (Kobo Daishi). The present buildings at Daikakuji Temple date from the 16th century onwards.
Daikakuji Temple is associated with a number of retired emperors in Japanese history, who continued to wield power from behind the scenes during the Muromachi Period. A peace conference to unite the Northern and Southern courts was held at Daikakuji in 1392. Daikakuji is also mentioned in Japan's oldest novel, the Tale of Genji.
The main building at Daikakuji is the Shinden, which was moved here from the Imperial Palace in the 16th century. In front of the Shinden is an imperial-style garden with an ancient orange tree and an equally venerable plum tree.
Arashiyama and Sagano offer several pleasant and convenient accommodation options.
Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto is a modern, spacious hotel in a romantic dreamscape of a location, overlooking the river, and just three minutes walk from Tenryuji Temple. Enjoy Japanese and French cuisine, and impeccable hospitality.
Close by are three more four- and five-star, luxury ryokan, offering superb service, traditional Japanese food, river views and private onsen: Ryotei Rangetsu, Arashiyama Benkei and Ranzan. All come highly recommended.
Japaning Hotel Liv Ranrokaku is a traditional Japanese ryokan with a clean, modern design, very conveniently located in Arashiyama proper, just south of Togetsukyo Bridge.
Guest House Arashi is budget accommodation option, offering both private and shared bunk-bed rooms, very near Togetsukyo Bridge.
Other budget accommodations include Mulan Hostel and the Sakura Story apartment.
Access to Arashiyama-Sagano
Three railway lines serve Arashiyama:
-the JR Sagano (or "Sanin") Line with its Saga Arashiyama Station about 6 minutes walk north of the river. From Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station takes only 15 minutes and a 240 yen train fare (or your Japan Rail Pass).
-the Keifuku (Randen) Line with its Arashiyama Station just over a minute's walk north from Togetsukyo Bridge. The Keifuku Line provides access to Arashiyama from Shijo-Omiya Station, takes 22 minutes and costs 210 yen.
-the Hankyu Line with its Arashiyama Station about 4 minutes walk south of the river. Accessing Arashiyama by Hankyu requires changing trains at Katsura station (if you're coming from the Hankyu Kyoto Line that runs between Kawaramachi and Umeda). From Shijo-Kawaramachi station, the full journey takes about 15 minutes and costs 220 yen.
Arashiyama and Sagano are compact enough for a pleasant one-day walking tour of Arashiyama.
Arashiyama & Sagano Map
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Arashiyama in west Kyoto has several temples of great beauty: Tenryuji, Jojakkoji, Nison-in, Gioji, Adashino Nembutsiji, Otagi Nembutsuji and Daikakuji.