Daigoji   醍醐寺

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View pond Daigoji.

Against diving on the 5-story pagoda temple Daigoji (Kyoto).

Against diving on the 5-story pagoda temple Daigoji (Kyoto).

Millenary majesty

South of Kyoto, between town and country, is Daigoji. Off the beaten track, visitors can get a taste a  of the serenity that is sometimes missing in the most famous sacred sites, often taken over by tourists.

Founded in 874, the temple is home to the oldest construction in Kyoto. Its five-story pagoda was built in 951 and remained steadfast face fire and civil wars. The deity honored here is Yakushi Nyorai Ruriko, the Medicine Buddha, who protects the population from epidemics. The place is a center of Shingon, a Tantric Buddhism movement with over twelve million members in Japan.

The Reihokan Museum, which preserves a fine collection of historical documents and works of art, has a garden planted with century-old weeping cherry trees, whose melancholy blossoms are an unforgettable sight. The architecture of the whole site is in Momoyama style: gilding adorn buildings, murals and furniture in a blaze.

Those who don't mind a little exercise in the open air, end their tour with a forty-minute climb. They head onto the steep path leading to the buildings on the mountainside. A walk leads to a spectacular panoramic view of the Kansai Plain. On clear days, the courageous walkers can even see Osaka in the distance.

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