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1. Jishu-Jinja Shrine 地主神社 [Higashiyama]
Located in the ground of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, this shrine prospers as the power spot of match-making. The history of the shrine had been said to date back to the time of mythology. A recent investigation by an American scholar confirmed that the “koi uranai-no- ishi” known as love rocks are from prehistoric period- about 12,000 BC to 300 BC. It really must be a power spot.
HP: www.jishujinja.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1-317 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
2. Yasaka-no-to 八坂の塔 [Higashiyama]
Hokan-ji Temple, well-known as Yasaka-no-to near Kiyomizu-dera Temple, is said to be established in 592. The 46m tall 5-story pagoda reconstructed in 1440 used to be a part of the temple, which is the last remnant tucked into the residential area. Visitors are allowed to get the rare opportunity to climb up the inside of pagoda.
Address: 388 Yasaka Kami-machi, Kiyomizu Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
3. Sanjusangen-do Temple 三十三間堂 [Higashiyama]
Sanjusangendo was founded in 1164 in eastern Kyoto. The main hall rebuilt in 1266 is the second oldest and the longest wooden building in Japan. Sanjusan means 33, which is number of intervals between the pillars. The visitors are marveled by one centerpiece of 42-armed Kannon and a thousand 40-armed Kannon statues standing inside of 120m hall.
HP: sanjusangendo.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 657 Sanjusangendo Mawaricho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
4. Eikando Temple 永観堂 [Okazaki]
Zenrin-ji Temple known as Eikando began as a training temple of Shingon sect in 853. It was converted to the Jodo sect later. The temple is well known for its autumn colors and an unusual statue of the Amida Nyorai looking back over his shoulder. Visitors can also enjoy walking through the covered walkways which connect the complex of buildings scattered on the hillside.
HP: www.eikando.or.jp/English/index_eng.html (Japanese Only)
Address: 48 Eikando-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
5. Matsuo Taisha Shrine 松尾大社 [Arashiyama]
The Matsuo Taisha founded in 701 in Arashiyama is one of Japan’s oldest shrines. Legend has it says that this place has been worshipped for the spirit of Mt. Matsuo from the time immemorial. Enshrined is the deity of water or sake brewing. Visitors can enjoy strolling in its unique three gardens.
HP: www.matsunoo.or.jp/index-1/index.html (Japanese Only)
Address: 3 Arashiyama-miyamachi, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
6. Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple 化野念仏寺 [Arashiyama]
The temple is said to be established in 811 in Adashino, which has been the burial site predating the Heian period. The field has been covered by countless number of stone monuments and statues of Buddha until they were put in order about 100 year ago. Visitors are overwhelmed by the site of about 8000 weathered stone monuments which were dedicated to the people who died without any kin.
HP: www.nenbutsuji.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 17 Sagatoriimoto Adashino-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
7. Jingo-ji Temple 神護寺[Takao]
Jingo-ji in the northwest mountains of Kyoto is known for its beautiful autumn foliage and cultural treasures. It was originally two temples founded in 781 which were merged into one in 824. Since Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism, was appointed head priest, this place has been known as the school of the sect.
HP: www.jingoji.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Takaocho Umegahata, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
8. Koryu-ji Temple 広隆寺[Northwest]
Koryu-ji, established in 603 in western Kyoto, is the oldest temple in Kyoto. The temple was burnt down twice and the current building was rebuilt in 1165, though the statue of Miroku Bosatsu, the first national treasure, and other statues of Buddha survived disasters. The Miroku Bosatsu is said to be donated by the prince who officially promoted Buddhism to Japan.
Address: 32 Uzumasa Hachioka-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
9. Ninna-ji Temple 仁和寺 [Northwest]
Ninna-ji Temple, located in the western Kyoto, was founded in 888 by an emperor. Since then, the head priest of this temple has been acted by several members of the loyal family. The most buildings were reconstructed between 1624 and 1644. Still, the architectures in imperial palace style retain its elegance as well as the beautiful garden with over 200 cherry trees.
HP: www.ninnaji.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 33 Omuro-Dairi, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City (Google Map)
10. Senbon Shakado 千本釈迦堂 [Northwest]
Established in 1220 by a monk, the main hall of Senbon Shakado, or Daihoonji Temple, built in 1227 is the oldest building in Kyoto. Considering its location in the city center where most of other buildings has been destroyed by wars and fires, it’s surprising that the main hall and the magnificent statues of Buddha from around 1200 have survived.
HP: www.daihoonji.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Nanahonmatsu-dori, Imadegawa agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
11. Kamigamo-Jinja Shrine 上賀茂神社 [North]
Kamigamo Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine are the sisters founded alongside the Kamo River in the 7th century. According to the legend, the ritual activity has been practiced since the pre-era. Two white sand corns for purification of the ground features the Kamigamo Shrine.
Address: 339 Motoyama Kamigamo Kita-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
12. Shimogamo-Jinja Shrine [North]
Shimogamo Shrine located downriver of Kamigamo Shrine is renowned for the surrounding forest, “Tadasu-no-mori,” which allows visitors to relax in the fresh air in the city area. The buildings in both sites had been reconstructed every 21 years until the main buildings constructed in 1863 were designated as the national treasures. Two shrines are ones of the oldest and the most important shrines in Kyoto.
Address: 59 Izumigawa-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
13. Kifune-Jinja Shrine [Kibune]
The history of Kifune Shrine dates back to the time of mythology according to the legend. A large rock in the upper shrine was said to be the place where a goddess from Osaka traveled by water buried her boat. The oldest official record was the reconstruction of the main building in 666. If you hike up to the upper shrine, the original site, you might know why this place have been worshipped for long.
HP: kifunejinja.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 180 Kurama Kibunecho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
14. Kuramadera Temple [Kurama]
The temple was founded by a monk in 770 in the northern mountains of Kyoto. The cultural artifacts such as statues of Buddha well survived despite several fires which destructed the buildings. The main attraction is its unique atmosphere of sanctuary deep in the forest. If you are energetic enough, you can enjoy day hike across the mountains to the neighboring Kibune area in the fresh air.
HP: www.kuramadera.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1074 Kurama-honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
15. Jakko-in Temple [Northeast]
Legend says it that this convent was founded in 594 but exact history is unknown. The original main building was unfortunately fell to arson in 2000. The temple was rebuilt in 2005 exactly as it had been since the major repairs in1603. Still, the secluded temple in Ohara, the northern hamlet among the mountains, makes nice harmony with its surrounding nature.
HP: www.jakkoin.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 676 Ohara Kusao-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
16. Manshu-in Temple [Northeast]
This temple was originally a Buddhism training school in Mt. Hiei in approximately 728 and was moved to the current location in 1656. The members of loyal family or aristocrats have acted the head priest and that gives this place exquisite grace including the meditative garden and numerous temple treasures. Best known for the autumn foliage.
HP: www.manshuinmonzeki.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 42 Ichijoji Takenouchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
17. Sanzen-in Temple [Ohara]
Located in Ohara, the Sanzen-in is a complex of gardens, halls and residence. The head priest had been acted by members of loyal family or aristocrats. The beautiful gardens and the dedicated stature of Amida Buddha is worth visiting. The original temple founded in 782 had moved several times and settled in current location in 1871.
HP: www.sanzenin.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 540 Ohara Raikoin-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
18. Toji Temple [South]
Founded in 796 as a guardian of the capital, Toji has long been a symbol of Kyoto. Its 54.8 meter high five-story pagoda is the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan. Though the structures were reconstructed after destructions by fires, the temple boasts magnificent collection of numerous statues of Buddha including national treasures. It’s located within 15 minute walk from Kyoto station.
HP: www.toji.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
19. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine [Fushimi]
The deity of the shrine was first enshrined on the three ridges of Mt. Inari in southern Kyoto in 8th century according to the legend. Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine over 30,000 Inari shrines throughout Japan. The impressive long path of vermilion torii gates and dozens of fox statues donated by adherents make the highlights. This place is loved for the delightful day hike across the sanctuary.
HP: inari.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
20. Daigoji Temple [Southeast]
The ground of Daigoji spreads across Mt. Daigo in southern Kyoto. The summit area is called as Kamidaigo, a place for Buddhism training, and the foot area with splendid landscapes is called as Shimodaigo. Though the most buildings have suffered several destructions by fires, the five-story pagoda built in 951 only has survived and is the oldest building in Kyoto.
HP: www.daigoji.or.jp/index_t.html (中文)
Address: 22 Daigo Higashioji-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-city (Google Map)
21. Ujigami-Jinja Shrine [Uji]
The establishment of the shrine is unknown. Its first appearance in official record was in 927. Constructed approximately in 1060, the current inner shrine is estimated as the oldest extant structure of its kind in Japan. The not-so-large sanctuary with buildings made in the ancient style is quiet and relaxing. You can easily combine the visit with its neighboring Byodo-in Temple and Uji-jinja Shrine.
Address: 59 Uji-Yamada, Uji-city, Kyoto (Google Map)