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Recommended for Repeaters! Top 5 World Heritage Temples in Kyoto

Kyoto, which is a famous sightseeing destination, is home to 17 cultural properties that are included in the World Heritage List as historic cultural monuments of ancient Kyoto. Below are five of the most recommended temples there.

1. Byodoin Temple

Byodoin Temple is a precious temple that showcases the building and statues that were created about 1,000 years ago, and then passed down to it. This temple’s origin dates back to the time when the son of the powerful Fujiwara Michinaga acquired the latter’s villa and turned it into a Buddhist temple in 1052. It houses many national treasures, but the one that is particularly famous is the Houo-do (Phoenix Hall) that is pictured on the 10-yen coin. It got its name from how the entire building looks like a phoenix with its wings spread out, as well as from the bronze phoenix statue found on the roof. Byodoin was erected on an island in a pond, so it exudes the beauty of a palace floating on a treasure pond in paradise.

Admission fee for Garden + Byodoin Museum Hoshokan:
Adult: 600 JPY
Junior/Senior high school student: 400 JPY
Elementary school student: 300 JPY
※Admission inside the Houo-do requires an additional 300 JPY

1. Byodoin Temple

116 Uji Renge, Uji-shi, Kyoto

2. To-ji Temple

Official name: (Kyo-o Gokokuji)

To-ji Temple is the head temple of the Toji Shingon sect that is associated with Kukai, who is known posthumously as Kobo Daishi (founder of the sect). It is the first esoteric temple to ever be built in Japan. It was built around 1,200 years ago. There are many cultural properties inside this temple, including the Kondo (national treasure), which is the main temple structure, and the five-storied pagoda (national treasure), which is the symbol of Kyoto that is known as the highest wooden five-storied pagoda in all of Japan. On the 21st of every month, the Kobo-ichi is held to celebrate Kobo Daishi. Lots of stalls open, making it a busy monthly spectacle.

Admission fee for Kondo + Kodo Halls:
Adult: 500 JPY
university student: 500 JPY
High school student: 400 JPY
Junior high school student: 300 JPY
Elementary school children: 300 JPY

2. To-ji Temple

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

3. Saihoji

Saihoji is an ancient temple of the Rinzai sect that was opened during the Nara period (710 – 794). The garden (historic site/special place of scenic beauty) surrounding the pond that is shaped like the kanji character “kokoro” (heart) is covered with more than 120 varieties of moss, so this temple came to be known by its alias, Kokedera (moss temple). Saihoji is filled with must-see spots like the Shonan-tei (important cultural property) – a tea room at the edge of the pond.

※ Reservations are required at least a week before your visit. Please inquire with the hotel or other places about it.
※ Entrance fee on the day of visit, after your reservation is completed: 3,000 JPY

3. Saihoji

56 Matsuo Jingatani-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

4. Toganoosan Kosanji

Toganoosan Kosanji is a temple of Shingon Buddhism that is tucked deep in the mountains. It began as a structure that was built as a residence for monks undergoing mountain training upon the request of the then-emperor in 774. Aside from the Choju Jinbutsu Giga (The Scroll of Frolicking Animals and Humans), which is a national treasure that is said to be the origin of modern Japanese manga and anime, this temple also houses plenty of paintings, handicrafts, and historical records. It is also known for the world’s oldest tea garden, which is located at the mountains behind the temple.

Admission fee for Sekisuiin: 800 JPY
※Must pay an additional 500 JPY to enter the mountain during autumn foliage season

4. Toganoosan Kosanji

8 Umegahata Toganoo-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

5. Daigoji Temple

Established in 874, Daigoji is the main temple of the Daigo school of the Shingon Sect. It developed into a holy place for mountain ascetics in the past. Boasting a sprawling area that stretches from the foot of the mountain to the summit, this temple houses more than 100,000 cultural properties, including national treasures. Two particularly famous structures are the Kondo (national treasure) and the five-storied pagoda (national treasure), which is the oldest wooden pagoda in the Kyoto region. It is also known as a scenic spot for viewing cherry blossoms, of which there are 1,000 trees inside the temple precincts, as well as for watching stunningly beautiful momiji (autumn foliage).

Admission fee for three spots – Sanboin, Garan, and Reihokan:
Adult: 500 JPY
Junior/Senior high school student: 1,000 JPY
※Mountain entrance fee:
Adult: 600 JPY
Junior/Senior high school student: 400 JPY

5. Daigoji Temple

22 Daigo-higashi Oji-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Some of the temples listed above may be slightly far from the center of Kyoto City, but they are all worth visiting. Please pay homage to these temples!

*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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