Kiyomizu-dera Temple is the most popular spot in Kyoto and one of the most popular destinations in all of Japan. The breathtaking view from Kiyomizu-dera and the temple itself is an must-see site for tourists, which is now famous worldwide. However, there also exists other beautiful temples around the precinct of Kiyomizu-dera Temple in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto.
Below are five destinations recommended for visitors to go in Higashiyama, Kyoto.
1. Yasaka-no-to Pagoda
The Yasaka-no-to Pagoda is a popular attraction for tourists. It is a five-story pagoda and is the second tallest building in Kyoto. This temple has been with Kyoto for most of its history with origins that can be traced back to 592.
Open Hours: 10:00-16:00
2. Kodai-ji Temple
The Buddhist temple Kodai-ji was established in 1606 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s wife, Kita-no-Mandokoro, also known as Nene. It was built as a memorial for Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The temple is famously known for its cherry blossoms in spring and for its gorgeous foliage in autumn.
Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
3. Yasaka Shrine
Yasaka Shrine is one of the famous shrines in Kyoto. It was once called the Gion Shrine. The shrine is believed to be found before the Heian Era around 656. The shrine worships the great deities of Shinto and Japanese mythology, Susanoo-no-mikoto, Kushiinadahime-no-mikoto and Yahashira-no-mikogami. The shrine is also famous for its association with the magnificent Japanese festival, the Gion Matsuri, which is held every July. As the shrine is near to Gion, Yasaka Shrine is also popular among Geisha and Maiko, and sometimes they can be spotted praying and visiting the shrine.
Hours: 24 Hours
4. Chion-in Temple
Chion-in is the headquarters of Jodo Shu (Pure Land Sect) of Buddhism. Chion-in is deeply connected to Honen (1133-1212) who is the founder of Jodo Shu. It is said on the grounds where Chion-in is today, Honen taught the chanting of Namu Amida Butsu. The Sanmon gate and the stairway to Chion-in, is recognized for its greatness. Two gardens at Chion-in are also beautiful.
Legends existing within the temple such as that of the nightingale hallway, makes the visitors’ coming to the temple even more excited. The Uguisubari no roka (The nightingale hallway) of Chion-in is said to make the sounds a nightingale makes when it is walked on. The less noise the person tries to make, the more creaks the floorboard made, and this was also used as an ancient burglar alarm. It is also told that the sound of the nightingale when walked on the hallway was heard “ho kike yo” which meant, "Listen to the Buddha’s teachings!" It reminded the people to listen to Buddha or else.
Open Hours: 9:00-16:00 (Gate closes at 16:30)
Price: ¥500 to see both gardens
(Free if not seeing gardens)
5. Shoren-in Temple
Shoren-in Temple is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai Sect. It is one of the five Monzeki temples in Kyoto. I it said that the head priests of these temples originally belonged to the Japanese Imperial family. Therefore, the interior in the Shoren-in temple is decorated with a similar calm and peaceful setting like the Imperial Palace. In the temple, a tea ceremony room exists called Kobun-tei, that was also used as a study house for the Empress Gosakuramachi who ruled from 1762-1770.
Open Hours: 9:00-17:00 (Last Admission at 16:30)