Would you like to fully enjoy your trip until the very last moment? In this article we will introduce locations near Kyoto Station where you can squeeze in some last minute sightseeing.
1. To-ji, Kyo-o-gokoku-ji Temple
To-ji is a government-established temple built in 769, with the purpose of protecting the capital. In 823, Kukai, who studied esoteric Buddhism under the Tang dynasty, received this temple from the Emperor Saga and To-ji became the first esoteric Buddhist temple. There are many buildings designated as national treasures in To-ji, including the five-story pagoda, the golden main hall, and Goeido where Kukai resided. However, one thing that must be seen is Katsuma Mandala, made of 21 statues of the Buddha, enshrined in the auditorium. A common mandala is in 2 dimensions, but this mandala appears very powerful as it is 3 dimensional. This place must be visited before leaving Kyoto.
2. Shosei-en Garden
Shosei-en Garden, located near Kyoto Station, was built on land contributed to Higashi Hongan-ji by the 3rd shogun of the Edo era, Iemitsu Tokugawa, in 1641. It is also known for its relation to Minamoto no Toru, a main character in the famous Japanese novel from the 11th century, The Tale of Genji. The garden was constructed in 1653 by Ishikawa Jouzan, a representative poet of the Edo era and a samurai. There is a 5,700 square meter pond called Ingetsu-chi, a hall of worship and tearooms on the vast grounds of this garden. The scenery of the garden changes its face with each season, and has a high reputation for its beauty. This is another great way to spend your remaining time in Kyoto, at this peaceful temple with a quietness to help you forget the busy atmosphere of the station.
2. Shosei-en Garden
3. Rengeo-in Sanjusangen-do
Rengeo-in was built in 1164 by Taira no Kiyomori under the order of former emperor Go-Shirakawa. The 118m long main hall is the longest example of wooden architecture of Japan, and is called Sanjusangen-do as there are 33 (sanjusan) spaces between the pillars in the hall. The main attraction of this temple is the 1001 statues of the Thousand-Armed Kannon (Avalokiteshvara) enshrined in the hall. The sight of ten rows filled with 1001 statues of the Thousand-Armed Kannon is breathtaking. In all 1001 statues, there are none which have the same expression. It is said that by staring at the statues for a long time, the face of the person you want to meet can be found. Why not go and find the face of someone you’d like to see back home?
4. Kyoto Tower
Kyoto Tower is a popular landmark of Kyoto that stands tall in front of JR Kyoto Station’s Karasuma Chuo exit. The elegant design of this white cylindrical building envisions a lighthouse that illuminates the city of Kyoto. The 131m tower is the tallest in Kyoto and from the 100m viewing area the scenery of Kyoto and Higashiyama Sanju-Roppo (a 36-mountain range) can be seen. A number of National Treasure Buildings like To-ji, Nishi Hongan-ji, and the sanmon gate of Tofuku-ji Temple can be seen from up in the Kyoto sky. Don’t miss out on this amazing sight before leaving Kyoto.
5. Nishi Hongan-ji
Nishi Hongan-ji is the head temple of the Jodo Shinshu Hongan-ji school. It was originally a mausoleum for the sect founder Shinran, built in 1272 at Higashiyama in Kyoto and relocated to its current location in 1591. The precincts of the temple have many important cultural properties, like the beautifully decorated karamon (a large gate with a gable), the famous Hiunkaku pavilion, and Kita-Nobutai, which is said to be the oldest Noh stage in Japan. This is the perfect place to sum up your journey in Kyoto.
The area around Kyoto Station has many locations worth a visit, including some not listed here. Enjoy your time in Kyoto for as long as time will allow.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.