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Kyoto

Sightseeing

5 Historic Places Open For a Limited Time in Autumn 2016 in Kyoto

2016.10.06

Writer name : HITODE 3

Every spring and fall, historical and cultural assets in Kyoto that are usually unavailable open to the public for a limited time period. In 2016, they will be open from October 28th to November 7th. You don't need any prior reservations unless you're in a group of more than 15. There are 21 places open during this period, but here are 5 you should definitely not miss including ones open for the first time.

1. Iwashimizu Hachimangu

This is one of Japan's top three Hachimangu shrines, and it's also known as Yawata no Hachimansan. It was built in 860. The main temple is built in the Hachiman-zukuri style (in which one building looks like two placed back and front), a construction style that is rather rare. This is the oldest remaining example of Hachiman-zukuri, so it's designated as a national treasure. The main building was rebuilt in 1634 by the Tokugawa Shogun at that time. What is open for a limited time is various wonderful sights like the main shrine, the main building, the Ougon no Toi (golden water pipe; donated by the famous Warring States period military commander Oda Nobunaga), and the Menuki no Saru (said to have been created by the famous wood carving artist Hidari Jingoro).

Available from October 28th (Friday) to November 7th (Monday).


1. Iwashimizu Hachimangu


Official Homepage (Japanese only)

2. The Holy Annunciation of the Theotokos Church

This cathedral is the central church for the Greek Orthodox Church in western Japan. This church was built in 1903 in a Russian Byzantine style using an octagonal tower and a domed roof. It's the oldest of this kind in Japan. The iconostasis inside the church was donated by a Russian Orthodox church, and it was made in Moscow so the 30 pictures of icons all lined up is an extremely gorgeous sight. You can see the iconostasis, the icons, and other holy objects without a reservation. The Russian-made icons from that era were almost entirely lost during the Russian revolution in 1917, so they are extremely precious items. Don't miss it!

Available from October 28th (Friday) to November 7th (Monday).


2. The Holy Annunciation of the Theotokos Church


Official Homepage (Japanese only)

3. Honen-in

Honen-in is a temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism in the quiet area of Shishigatani. When you pass through the rustic, thatched roof gate, you'll meet beautiful piles of white sand called "byakusadan" to your left and right. They are there to purify your body and mind before you pray. What awaits the purified visitor this autumn is the Sitting Amitabha Tathagata statue in the main building and the art on a Japanese paper door painted by Kano Takanobu, a member of one of Japan's greatest schools of art, the Kano school. When you go, don't forget to also see the Jodo garden! If you're lucky, you'll be able to see the garden full of beautiful autumn colors.

Available from November 1st (Tuesday) to November 7th (Monday).


3. Honen-in


Official Homepage (Japanese only)

4. Toji

Toji, a head temple of the Shingon sect, is designated to a World Heritage site as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. It's also a treasury of esoteric Buddhist art. In the koudo building that is available during this period, you can see 21 visual representations of esotericism in the 3D mandalas enshrined there. The northern side of the image's dais is open to the public, so you can walk around and see the mandalas around it. The sight is different from usual, so being able to see the mandalas from all around is definitely impressive! The first floor of the five-storied pagoda is also open to the public for this time, and the inside is a richly colored esoteric space that's bewitching. Don't forget to check it out!

Available from October 28th (Friday) to December 4th (Sunday).

Toji Koudo

The 5-storied pagoda that's a symbol of Kyoto


4. Toji


Official Homepage

5. Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo Shrine, a shrine with an enshrined forest, ”Tadasu no Mori” that includes vegetation from the BC era, is a World Heritage site. On the wide grounds sit 2 buildings registered as national treasures and 53 important cultural assets, including the group of main buildings. The buildings opened to the public during this time are the main shrine (a national treasure consisting of two buildings on the east and west sides), the building where they create food and drink as offerings to the gods, and the building where they made clothes for the gods (both important cultural assets). This is a rare chance to pray at the main shrine, which is usually hidden away in the shadows of the hall of offerings. You can also get commentary from volunteers (Japanese only).

Available from October 17th (Monday) to November 7th (Monday). Excludes October 25th (Tuesday).

Building where they make clothes for the gods.


5. Shimogamo Shrine


Official Homepage

There are plenty of other cultural assets open for a limited viewing this autumn! Make sure to look all the information up and don't miss this chance!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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