2021/07/29 (Thu) Japanese Tips

Discovering Kyoto: Shokoku-ji Temple

A stay in Kyoto obviously involves visiting temples and shrines around the city, and they are everywhere. Our Kyoto Machiya Houses offer proximity and great transportation options to most of the renown spots in town, but one place that can get overlooked is Shokoku-ji Temple, it’s beautiful surroundings and the Jotenkaku Museum.

This temple was originally constructed in 1394, but like many other temples around the city, it has been burnt and rebuilt several times thereafter. The worst of these took place in 1788 when almost all of the main temples in the grounds where severely burnt down. The only standing structure was the Dharma Hall, Hatto, displayed in the picture above.

This hall is the oldest Buddhist lecture hall of its kind in the country and has a beautiful drawing of a dragon on its inner roof, symbolizing the rain of Buddhist teachings. It has been designated a Special Protection Building in 1910 by the Cultural Preservation Act, and thereafter also a Old National Treasure in 1929, and an Important Cultural Property in 1950.

Like the famous Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple) and Ginkaku-ji (Silver Temple), Shokoku-ji belongs to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism and it is currently its main temple. It shares its grounds with several other sub-temples and shrines with special openings throughout the year displaying more of the historical and cultural beauty of Japan.

Shokoku-ji itself has a unique collection of cultural assets displayed at the Jotenkaku Museum. The tour through the museum includes the display of unique panel paintings and a walk through the inside of the main hall displayed above to fully dive into the strong presence of this unique historical treasure.

Without a doubt, a walk through the temple grounds provides a relaxing atmosphere for students attending the prestigious Doshisha University, located to the south. One of the special features of this area is the beautiful lotus flower lake. An interesting fact is that the bridge on the lake is called Tenkaikyo (天界橋), meaning “heaven’s bridge”, and used to connect this temple with the Imperial Palace, currently continuing to be just south from the temple grounds. There are also several large rock pieces in the area that are actually part of the foundations of the older temples that could not be reconstructed after the last burning catastrophe. Another interesting fact about this is that, what today are the grounds of Doshisha University, actually used to be part of Shokoku-ji temple’s grounds, but were so devastated after the great fire of 1788 that the buildings there could not be reconstructed.

Shokoku-ji is easily accessed from our Kyoto Machiya semi-apartment, share house and guest house units, as well as from Imadegawa Station on the main city subway Karasuma Line. 

If you are interested in seeing more of this temple, you can check their virtual tour >>here<<.

How to get to Shokoku-ji Temple from Sakura House Kyoto:

 

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