Kyōto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace)(京都御所)

The Imperial Palace in Kyoto has been the seat of the Emperor from the Heian period (794-1185) until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). After the Edo period, the Tenno and his court moved to the Old Edo, which then became the official capital of Japan and changed its name to Tokyo – Capital of the East.

The palace and garden are within the old palace enclosure but were built much later, during the Edo period (1855). The style is loosely based on the Heian shinden-zukuri style, with large gravel courtyards and a small pond garden.

Access to the garden is only granted free of charge. Tours are held in Japanese, Chinese, and English. English tours are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can apply for them by visiting the Visitors Room on the right side of the entrance.

[Updated: 10/2018]

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Directions

How to get there From Kyoto station, take the Karasuma line to Marutamachi station (丸太町, 4 stops, 7 minutes). From there, enter the Kyoto-gyoen and go to the entrance of the Sentō-Gosho in the center of the park.

If you prefer to go by bus, take the city bus 205 and get off at the bus stop Furitsu-idaibyouin-mae (府立医大病院). The bus stop is to the east of the Kyoto-gyoen, enter the park and walk in a westwards direction.

Address
JP: 〒602-0881 京都府京都市,上京区京都御苑
EN: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 〒602-0881

Opening hours
September & March 9 a.m. – 3:50 p.m. (Last admission) 4:30 p.m. (Closing time)
October – February 9 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. (Last admission) 4 p.m. (Closing time)
April – August 9 a.m. – 4:20 p.m. (Last admission) 5 p.m. (Closing time)
Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a holiday, the palace will close on Tuesday instead.)
December 28 – January 4

Admission
Entrance is free.

The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)(金閣寺 鹿苑寺)

Kinkaku-ji (the more popular name for its actual name Rokuon-ji – 鹿苑寺) is one of the most famous temples in Japan and a definite must-see on you Kyoto bucket list. The awe-inspiring sight of the richly decorated golden temple that seems to float over the mirror pond is worth a visit to Kyōto alone. In combination with the numerous islands and pine trees, it looks almost surreal.

The estate was originally constructed as a retirement pavilion by the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397, it was turned into a Zen temple after Yoshimitsus death in 1408. During the Onin war (1467-77) the buildings and garden of Rokuon-ji faced the same fate as many other temples in Kyōto – they were completely destroyed by fire. Fortunately the pavilion survived the fire and the rest of the garden was restored. In 1950 the pavilion was burnt down by a young novice monk and needed to be rebuild in 1955. It was rebuilt very close to the original, although more parts of the pavilion received a leaf gold coating on the inside and outside.

The garden is an extraordinary example of a Japanese strolling garden of the Muromachi period. A path leads around the pond, offering great viewing axes and photo spots to take beautiful pictures of the temple.

If you come early, you can avoid the crowds, but have to share the garden with school children of all ages from all over Japan. A visit usually takes between 30 and 50 minutes. You can also have a cup of Matcha tea and traditional Japanese sweet (Wagashi 和菓子) in the garden.

Contents
  • Introduction
  • Historical Background
  • History of the Temple and the Garden
  • Buildings and Garden
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Questions for Hayano-San
  • Eating and Drinking
  • Directions

11 pages
19 illustrations
17 MB
2012


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Directions

How to get there
Bus: Take the bus 101 or 205 and get off at the stop ’Kinkaku-ji’. From Tokyo Station it takes around 40 minutes and costs 220 yen.
Subway: Take the Karasuma line to Kitaō-ji station. From there you can take a taxi (10min and 900 yen) or the bus 101, 102, 204 or 205 (10 min, 220 yen).

Address EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Kinkaku-ji-Chō 1
Address JP: 〒603-8361, 京都府京都市 北区 金閣寺町1
Tel: 075-461-0013

Admission
400 yen

Opening hours
9:00am to 5:00pm

Katsura Rikyū(桂離宮)

The Katsura Rikyū or Katsura Imperial Palace (also known under the name Katsura Detached Palace), has been built for Prince Toshihito in the early Edo period. Since the prince was very well read, the gardens feature many references to the Japanese classic “Tale of the Genji”. The architecture and the gardens of the palace are remarkable. There used to be five tea houses in the garden, of which four remain until today. The tea houses and the Old, Middle and New Shoin (drawing room, study room) are exquisite examples of Japanese architecture.

The garden features a large variety of decorative features like stone lanterns, gates, hand washing basins and different styles of laid paths, stepping stone paths and Japanese garden fences.

This eBook features the famous Ishi-doro or stone lanterns of Katsura Rikyu.

Contents:
  • Introduction to stone lanterns (石燈籠)
  • Introduction to the Katsura Imperial Palace (桂離宮)
  • Stone lanterns along the garden paths:
  • Ball-shape lantern – Mari-gata Tōrō (毬形灯籠)
  • Stone lantern – Ishi-dōrō (石燈篭)
  • Water-firefly lantern –
  • Mizubotaru-dōrō (水蛍燈篭)
  • Christian lanterns – Kirishitan-dōrō (キリシタン燈籠)
  • Snow-viewing lantern – Yukimi-dōrō (雪見燈籠)
  • Triangle lantern – Sankaku-dōrō (三角燈籠)
  • Three-lights lantern – Sankō-dōrō (三光燈籠)
  • Buried stone lanterns – Ikekomi-dōrō (活け込み燈籠)
  • Oribe stone lanterns (織部燈籠)

8 pages with
25 pictures about the stone lanterns of the Katsura Rikyu garden.



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Directions

Katsura Rikyu is located in Kyoto’s west. The easiest way to get there is to take the Kyoto City bus 33 from Kyoto station and get off at the “Katsura Rikyu mae” bus stop. You can also take the Hankyu Kyoto train until Katsura station and walk from there in 15 minutes in eastern direction.

Address
JP: 〒615-8014 京都府京都市西京区桂御園
EN: Katsuramisono, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 615-8014

Admission
Reservation required at the Imperial Household Agency. Same-day reservations are ok. A contingent of tickets is available each day from 11 am on a first come first-served basis.
http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/katsura.html

1000 Yen Admission fee. Only visitors above 12 years are allowed.

The Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji)(銀閣寺 (慈照寺))

The second most famous temple in Kyōto and little brother of Kinkaku-ji is the Ginkaku-ji on the eastern hills of Kyōto. It was built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the grandson of the founder of Kinkaku-ji. While the Kinkaku-ji sparkles brightly in its golden coating, the Ginkaku-ji was planned to be covered completely in leaf silver.

However, due to the Ōnin war (1477-87) and the shōguns pursuit of perfection, construction of the estate was postponed again and again and might be the reason that the silver coating was never applied. During renovation works in 2008 it was considered to coat the temple in silver just as it was intended to be, but after a long discussion, the temple’s board came to the conclusion that the concept of Wabi-Sabi is conved better with a wooden temple. As his grandfather Yoshimitsu, Yoshimasa planned to live in this palace after his retirement, isolated from the everyday life outside. Yoshimasa is said to have spent several years on planning the estate, and even chose the stones used for the pond garden himself.

Looking at the pictures of the temple and garden, how would you have planned a villa and garden on this estate if you had the opportunity? While being a less than strong political leader, Yoshimasa was said to be an aesthete, a lover of culture, tea ceremony and a big supporter of Zen Buddhism, even a highly ranked zen practitioner. Envision him taking walks in the garden, enjoying a tea prepared by his tea master or sitting quietly in meditation with a view on the garden.

Contents:
  • Introduction
  • Historical Background – The Muromachi period and Ashikaga Yoshimasa
  • History of the temple and the Garden
  • Buildings and garden
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Omiyage from Kyoto
  • How to get there


10 pages
30 illustrations
11 MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Directions

How to get there
Bus: From Kyōto station, take bus number 5, 17 or 100 and get off at the Ginkaku-ji bus stop (35min, 220yen).
By foot: If you prefer to experience Kyōto by foot, take a walk on the pittoresque Philosopher’s Path (30min from Nanzen-ji).

Address
EN: 〒606-8402, Sakyō-Ku, Ginkaku-ji-Chō 2
JP: 〒606-8402, 京都市左京区銀閣寺町2

Tel
075-771-5725

Opening hours
8:30am-5pm (Mar-Nov)
9am-4:30pm (Dec-Feb)

Admission
500 Yen

Amida-dō Byōdō-in (Phoenix Hall)(平等院 鳳凰堂)

Byodo-in Amida-do by Real Japanese Gardens
The Byōdō-in temple near Kyoto city was built in 998 in the Heian period (794-1192) as residence for Minamoto no Toru.

In 1052, it became a Buddhist temple. A year later, the Amida Hall, also called Phoenix Hall or Hōō-do was built. Until this day, it stands here in is original form.

In front of the Phoenix hall is a pond garden, which symbolizes the Pure Land, the paradise.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Nara line towards Joyo. After 30 minutes and 8 stops, get off at Uji station (宇治). From there it is only a short walk in eastern direction.

Opening times
8:30am – 5:30pm

Admission
300 yen

Ninna-ji  (仁和寺)

Ninna-ji is one of Kyoto’s oldest temples. It was founded in 888 (Heian period) by emperor Oda. From that time on until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), the position of the temple’s head priest was always held by a son of a reigning emperor. Naturally, the temple was the center of the tennō’s supporters, but lost influence under the ruling of the Muromachi shogunate in the Muromachi period.

It burned down completely during the Ōnin war, but was rebuilt between 1641 and 1646. The garden in front of the Shinden was rebuilt in 1914. It has a pond and can be viewed from the veranda. The buildings are all connected with covered walkways that are characteristic for Shinden style architecture, the architecture of palaces and aristocratic residences in the Heian period (794-1185).

Although Ninna-ji is really close to tourist magnets like Ryoan-ji and Myoshin-ji, it has significantly less visitors. The buildings and gardens are well-maintained and some superior artwork is on display on the sliding doors in the study room.

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Directions

How to get there
Kyoto, Ukyo-ku, Ouchi Omuro 33
Take the Kyoto city bus 8, 10, 26 or 59 to the stop Omuro-Ninna-ji and walk in northern direction.

Address
JP: 〒616−8092 京都府京都市右京区御室大内33
EN: 33 Omuroouchi,Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 〒616-8092

Admission
500 Yen

Opening hours
9am – 4.30pm (Dec – Feb)
9am – 5pm (Mar – Nov)

Shirakawa-in Garden  (白河院庭園)

The Shirakawa-in is a high-class ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with a small but superb garden. Its history traces back to the early Heian period (794-1185), when the imperial court and the first regent of the Fujiwara clan built their villas on this ground. Later, tennō Shirakawa (1053-1129) abdicated in the age of 44 in favor of his son, became a monk and moved to the Shirakawa-in. From there he reigned as cloistered emperor behind the scenes for 41 more years.

The garden that we see today has been restored by Kogawa Jihee, a famous plantsman of the modern Japan (1860-1933). The garden is a strolling garden with a small pond. There is also a tea house in the southeastern corner. It is a wonderful secret garden, and if you happen to be in the area (Heian-jingu, Nanzen-ji), do stop by and enjoy the atmosphere.

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Directions

How to get there
Shirakawa-in is situated on the north side of the Kyoto Zoo. Take the city bus number 5, 57, 32 or 100 to Doubutsu-en-mae (動物園前 – Kyoto Zoo). From there walk north. When you can see the big Heian Shrine to your left, turn right and follow the street. Shirakawa-in is to your left side.

Address
Kyōto, Sakyō-Ku, Hōshōji-chō 16
Telephone: 075-761-0201

Admission
free

Shōsei-en (Kikoku-tei)  (渉成園)

Shōsei-en is a garden that belongs to Higashi-Hongan-ji, the big temple of the True Pure Land School of Buddhism just north of Kyoto station. The garden is said to have belonged to the residence of the son of tennō Saga and was built in the early Heian period (794-1185). The pond most likely remained from the original design. The garden we see today, was laid out in 1641 after the shogun Tokugawa donated the land to the Hongan-ji. The garden design was probably realized by the intellectual Ichikawa Jozan and artist, tea master and aristocrat Kobori Enshu,

The garden has a pond and some tea houses, cherry trees that are a visitor magnet in spring. It is just a few meters away from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto station. While you can still hear the cars and see some of the surrounding buildings, it is good to see that these beautiful places do exist in modern Kyoto.

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Directions

How to get there
Shōsei-en is not far from the Kyoto station. Take the north exit and walk one block north and then another block in eastern direction. It will take aproximately 7 minutes. You can also take the city bus number 5 to Kawaramachi Shomen.

Admission
500 Yen donation is recommended

Opening hours
9am – 4pm, last entry 3:30pm

Address
Kyoto-Shi, Shimogyo-Ku, Aidanocho-higashiiru, Shimojuzuyamachi-dori, Higashitamamizu-cho 300

Taizō-in (Myōshin-ji)  (退蔵院)

Taizo-in is a small Zen Buddhism temple located in northwestern Kyoto on the quiet and spacious grounds of Myoshin-ji. With its beautiful gardens and treasures of Japanese art, Taizo-in is the oldest and most famous sub-temples of the Myoshin-ji complex. It was founded in 1404 and the gardens are said to have been designed by the painter Kano Motonobu in the Muromachi period.

Taizo-in is open to receive and educate international visitors about Zen culture. Here you can experience Zen meditation, tea ceremony, calligraphy, and temple-stay with a friendly and dedicated staff.

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Directions

How to get there

Take the JR Sanin Main line from Kyoto station (platform 32 or 33) towards Sonobe (園部). After 11 minutes, get off at Hanazono station (花園). From there, walk back 500 meters in north-eastern direction to get to the Myoshin-ji temple complex.

Opening times
9am – 5pm

Admission
500 yen

Address
京都市右京区花園妙心寺町35
Kyoto-shi, Ukyo-ku, Hanazono Myoshin-ji-cho 35

Sanzen-in  (三千院)

Sanzen-in is the main attraction of Ohara, a small village north of Kyoto. It was founded 806 by the monk Saicho that brought introduced the Tendai school of Buddhism to Japan.
It has a moss garden that can be admired from the Shinden. Around the garden are several small stone head sitting in the moss. Their faces are laughing, that is why they are called Warai-jizo (笑い地蔵 – Laughing Buddhas). The best season for this garden is definitely autumn. The leaf changing in Owara starts usually a little earlier than in Kyoto.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Ohara line bus towards Ohara (大原). It takes a little more than 1 hour to get to Ohara. Since Sanzen-in is the most popular temple in Ohara, it is easy to find. Just walk 600 meters east.

Opening times
8:30am – 5pm

Admission
600 yen

Address
左京区大原来迎院町540
Sakyo-ku, Ohara Raigouin-cho 540