close

Download the Official App!

View View

WOW! JAPAN

Start: Depart from Kyoto Station and head to Toji Temple

Toji Temple, a temple with a famous five-storied pagoda that's one of Kyoto's landmarks, is about 1.6km from Kyoto Station, about a 20 minute walk. There are a few buses that go to Toji Temple, but there aren't many and you'll have to wait a while. In order to save time, those that can should walk.

▼How to get there▼
From Kyoto Station's Hachijo West exit, continue down Hachijo-dori on the right side until the intersection at Ohmiya Hachijo. Cross to the left, and you'll be able to see the pagoda of Toji Temple. A five minute walk down Ohmiya-dori will get you there.

▼Time necessary (estimated)▼
20 minutes

Start: Depart from Kyoto Station and head to Toji Temple

Kamadono-cho, Higashi-shiokoji, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

1. Toji Temple (20 minute walk from Kyoto Station)

In ancient times, this temple flourished as the most important building in Shingon Mikkyou Buddhism. There are 25 buildings on the grounds that have been registered as national treasures, such as Japan's tallest wooden building, the five-storied pagoda, the main temple, and the Mieido, where Kukai (the founder of Shingon Buddhism) lived. 52 other buildings are registered as important cultural artifacts. There are many things to see on the large grounds, but something that you cannot miss is the 3D Katsuma Mandala inside the main temple building. This mandala is made up of 21 statues of Buddha. The impressive sight of the Buddha will easily teach you the world of Shingon Buddhism.
After you walk around the grounds leisurely and take in the main hall and the 5-storied pagoda, return to Kyoto Station so you can make your way to your next destination, Daigoji Temple.

▼Time necessary (estimated)▼
About an hour

1. Toji Temple (20 minute walk from Kyoto Station)

1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

2. Daigoji Temple (50 minutes from Toji Temple by bus and walking)

This temple was built in 874, and is laid out in three parts on Mt. Daigo: Kami-Daigo at the top of the mountain, which was a sacred ground for mountain ascetics called shugenja, Shimo-daigo at the foot of the mountain that was under the patronage of Emperor Daigo who reigned from 897-930, and Sambo-in, which has a splendid garden. There are 6 buildings registered as national treasures, and on top of that there are 69,419 pieces of art including paintings, carvings, and traditional crafts that are also designated as national treasures. 6,522 pieces are important cultural artifacts. Something you must check out are the lovely buildings that are part of Shimo-Daigo, including the main temple and the five-storied pagoda. The five-storied pagoda was built in 951 but remains the same since then. Also, the garden at Sambo-in is famous for both cherry blossoms and autumn foliage, so if you visit during those seasons, please stop by. Shimo-Daigo and Kami-Daigo are separated by a steep mountain path, so it takes about an hour to hike between them, so people who don't have time or are physically unable to make the hike, please head to your next destination, Ujigami Shrine.

▼How to get there▼
From Toji Temple, walk back to Kyoto Station Hachijo exit, and take the Yamashina Express bus from Kyoto Station Hachijo Exit H4 (in front of the Hotel Keihan Kyoto) and alight at Daigoji.

▼Required time (estimated)▼
2-3 hours

2. Daigoji Temple (50 minutes from Toji Temple by bus and walking)

22 Daigo Higashiohji-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

3. Ujigami-jinja Shrine (40 minutes from Daigoji Temple by bus, train, and walking)

This cozy shrine on the east bank of the Uji River is called the world's most narrow World Cultural Site, since it's tucked away in the foothills of Mt. Asahi. The main shrine, built around 1060, is the oldest shrine building in existence, so it's very precious and is registered as a national treasure. Another national treasure is the front hall, which was built around 1215, and is characterized by the sugaruhafu-style roof, which is curved as though it were undulating. They're not flashy, but both of them are very important buildings that will let you feel the history. Once you've finished your visit, head to your final destination, Byodoin Temple.

▼How to get there▼
Take the Keihan bus from Daigoji-mae bus stop and alight at Keihan Rokujizo Station. From there, take the Keihan line to Uji Station. It's about a 10 minute walk to Ujigami-jinja Shrine.

▼Time necessary (estimated)▼
About 30 minutes

3. Ujigami-jinja Shrine (40 minutes from Daigoji Temple by bus, train, and walking)

59 Uji Yamada, Uji-shi, Kyoto

4. Byodoin Temple (10 minute walk from Ujigami-jinja Shrine)

This temple was built in 1052, and is related to the Fujiwara family that lived in luxury during the Heian period (794-1192). The Phoenix Hall, built the year afterwards, is basically the only building left that shows some of the elegant lifestyle lived by lords in the Heian era, and the building as well as the Amitabha Tathagata Buddha inside the hall are both designated as national treasures. In 2014, a 2 year renovation ended, so it is as florid and bright as it was when it was built. The image of the Phoenix Hall reflected in the lake surrounding it, Ajiike, is so beautiful you'll be speechless. The Hoshokan, a museum on the grounds, exhibits other national treasures and important cultural artifacts stored at Byodoin Temple, so don't forget to check it out.

▼How to get there▼
Ujigami-jinja Shrine and Byodoin Temple are separated by the Uji River and are built facing each other, so they're only about a 10 minute walk away from each other.

▼Time necessary (estimated)▼
1-2 hours

4. Byodoin Temple (10 minute walk from Ujigami-jinja Shrine)

116 Uji Renge, Uji-shi, Kyoto

Goal: back to Kyoto Station (40 minutes from Byodoin Temple by train and walking)

When you're satisfied with exploring the southern part of Kyoto, return to Kyoto Station.

▼How to get there▼
From Byodoin Temple, walk to JR Uji Station, and take the JR Nara Line heading to Kyoto. Alight at the final stop, Kyoto Station.

▼Time necessary (estimated)▼
Regular train 25 minutes, express train 15 minutes

All of these spots were registered as UNESCO World Cultural and Heritage Sites in 1994 under the name "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto." Altogether, those sites number 17, so it would be good to make your own route visiting some of the others as well. In order to make the best of your time in the Rakunan area, it would be good to leave from Kyoto Station around 8:00 am.

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

Recommended articles for you

Follow WOW! JAPAN
Can't find it in a guidebook? Looking through this app will definitely make you want to go to Japan.
Sightseeing information to make you say "Wow!", updated every day!