Ikkyuji Temple Karesansui GardenIkkyuji Temple Karesansui Garden



Visiting ancient temples and tea culture in Kyoto (Part 1)


The real Kyoto is only in winter. Visit Minamiyama Castle in Kyoto and see old temples you haven't seen yet

Of cherry blossoms. Aoba's. Of autumn leaves. Kyoto, which shows its beauty in every season, fascinates not only Japanese people but people all over the world. So, what about Kyoto in winter? Experts in Kyoto should visit in winter. Especially if you want to visit old temples, I would recommend visiting Kyoto in winter.


What we see there is the very Kyoto we imagine. In the solemn silence, you can forget the time, face the Buddhist statues, and spend time to your heart's content. Minamiyama Castle, located in the southern part of Kyoto, is the second area in Kyoto Prefecture that has national treasures and important cultural properties, second only to Kyoto City. By renting a car or chartering a taxi, you can easily access ancient temples in Kyoto's Minamiyamashiro area during the soul-cleansing winter. Now is the time to visit an old temple you haven't seen yet.

Kaijuzanji Temple
Beyond the tea fields, visit the beautiful five-storied pagoda temple


It's about an hour's drive from Kyoto city. After weaving through the scattered tea plantations and climbing the steep mountain path, you will finally see the mountain gate. Kaijusenji is an ancient temple built by the priest Ryoben in 1 by the order of Emperor Shomu.


Shige Omura, an essayist who was active in the 1980s and is known for popularizing the term ``obanzai'' to refer to Kyoto side dishes, is a lover of Kaijuzanji Temple. In her collection of essays, ``Quiet Kyoto,'' she devotes a chapter to Kaijusanji Temple, describing her visit there. She walks along the mountain path on her own, following the image of Tenpyo at the Eleven-Faced Kannon, and admiring the sharp appearance of the five-storied pagoda that stands against the pine forest. Above all, she seemed to like the rich nature and tranquility.


``The plum blossoms bloom. The cherry blossoms bloom. After that, the satsuki blooms, and the refreshing blue maple leaves of that time turn red like a curtain of brocade in autumn. After all, this is the Kannon Pure Land. "It's a great temple to spend a day relaxing and contemplating life," he said, praising it thoroughly.

Five-storied pagoda Five-storied pagoda

The five-storied pagoda, a national treasure, dates from the Kamakura period. It is small with a total height of 17.7m, but its clean and beautiful appearance is beautiful. It is said to be about XNUMX/XNUMX the size of the five-storied pagoda at Toji Temple near Kyoto Station.

You can also take a stroll while visiting the five-storied pagoda, a national treasure located within the 30,000 tsubo grounds, Monju-do Hall, designated as an important cultural property, Sanmon Gate, Main Hall, Honbo Temple, Bell Tower, Okuno-in Temple, Yakushi-do Hall, Ossuary Hall, and Kasuga Daimyojin Shrine. All right.


Above all, there is a natural beauty that can only be seen in winter at Kaijuzanji Temple. If you go up a little to the back of the precincts and look out over the mountains, you can feel what Shige Omura wrote when he wrote, ``This is the perfect temple to spend a leisurely day exploring life.'' The winter sun shines in the clear air, and for just a moment, it feels like time has stopped.



Kaijuzanji Temple Kaijuzanji Temple

In winter, there are fewer people at Kaijuzanji Temple, so you can visit without worrying.

View from Kaijuzanji Temple View from Kaijuzanji Temple

View from the back of the main hall. The mountain range beyond the Kizugawa River stands out in the winter sun.

Kaijuzanji Temple

20 Reiheumijuyama, Kamo-cho, Kizugawa-shi, Kyoto Prefecture
Visiting hours: 9:16-30:XNUMX
Admission fee: Entrance into the main hall (hon-respected 500-faced Kannon Bodhisattva, etc.) XNUMX yen (includes entrance fee)
*Entrance fee is 1 yen per person for hiking, photography, walking, etc.
*Additional fee applies during special exhibition period

Joruriji Temple
An old temple with nine Buddha statues where you can enjoy a relaxing time


As you walk along the narrow approach to the Sanmon gate while watching the cats that live in the area taking a leisurely nap, you will feel a sense of calm in the mountain village atmosphere. Joruri-ji Temple comes into view as you pass by the Nanten shrubbery with its lovely red berries and the thatched-roof teahouse.



Joruriji Temple is also called Kutaiji Temple. The reason for this is that it houses nine seated statues of Amida Nyorai. During the Heian period, many halls enshrining nine seated Amida statues were built, but Joruriji Temple is the only one that still exists. Over the years, many of the nine seated Amida statues were lost due to wars and other conflicts. This is a valuable Buddhist statue that conveys the flourishing of Pure Land thought at the time.

Amida Nyorai sitting statue Amida Nyorai sitting statue

Inside the main hall, you can always see the ``Nine Seated Amida Nyorai Statues''. There are eight unique statues lined up, centered around the particularly large Chuson statue. Two of the Amida statues, which were created in the early 12th century, are under repair at any given time. Both the main hall and Amitabha Buddha are national treasures.

At the time of our interview, the door to the zushi of the standing statue of the famous Kichijoten female statue was being opened for a special reason. The beautiful statue of a celestial maiden said to have been created during the Kamakura period is an important cultural property.

Triple tower Triple tower

The three-storied pagoda, which is said to have been built in the late Heian period, is said to have been moved from within Kyoto City.

The faint light from outside makes the figure of Amida Nyorai appear in the dimly lit main hall. Forgetting the cold, I gazed at the figure and put my hands together. I don't have to pray for anything, I just immerse myself in the sense of security of being embraced by infinite mercy. If possible, I would like to visit in the morning when there are fewer people and this quiet time is allowed.



There is a pond in the center, the main hall to the west, and a three-storied pagoda to the east. Both are national treasures. After strolling through the garden, which has been designated as a special place of scenic beauty, it's a good idea to eat soba noodles at a teahouse on the approach road and soak in the mountain village atmosphere. The luxury of winter in Kyoto is that you can fully enjoy this relaxing tranquility.

garden garden

Joruriji Temple

40 Nishikofudaba, Kamo-cho, Kizugawa-shi
Opening hours: 9:00-17:00
Admission fee: 400 yen (junior high school students and above)

Shuonan Ikkyuji Temple
Ikkyu's temple rests in a dry landscape garden


Ikkyu is known throughout the world through Japanese people, or rather anime. Ikkyu Sojun, also known as Ikkyu-san, spent his later years at Shuon-an Ikkyu-ji Temple. He came to live in this temple in 1456, at the age of 2, during the middle of the Muromachi period. Even after he became the chief priest of Daitokuji Temple at the age of 63, he continued to commute there for 81 years until his death at the age of 88.



Shuonan Ikkyuji Temple is famous for its beautiful dry landscape garden. Sitting on the veranda, you can enjoy the refreshing view of the Karesansui garden from the Hojo. As you spend time admiring the different views of the south, east, and north gardens, you will feel your heart filled with joy. It's also fun to walk around the grounds, which are filled with statues of Ikkyu from his training days and a bridge modeled after the Tonchi scene from ``Konohashiwa Wataru Bekarazu.'' The lush green grounds captivate your heart no matter what season you visit.

Dry landscape garden Dry landscape garden

Karesansui viewed from the Hojo.

Takigi Noh is held every September. It has a connection with Noh, as Noh masters such as Konparu Zenchiku and Otoami often visited there to ask Sojun Ikkyu to teach them, and there is also the grave of Otoami, the 9rd generation head of the Kanze school, Motosho the XNUMXth generation, and Seioki the XNUMXth generation. It's a deep temple. It is said that the name Takigi Noh came from the name of the place, ``Takigi'' (firewood).



At the cafe space in the main hall, you can enjoy tea from Kyotanabe, a tea producing area, as well as Ozenya, which is said to have been named by Zen Master Ikkyu. I would like to visit with time to spare.

Ikkyuji Temple Main Hall Ikkyuji Temple Main Hall

The main hall houses the seated statue of Shakyamuni Buddha and the statue of Manjushri Fugen Bodhisattva. It was built during the Eikyo era by the devotion of Yoshinori Ashikaga, the sixth shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, and is said to be the oldest Chinese-style building in the Yamashiro/Yamato region. The autumn leaves are spectacular.

Ikkyu-san Ikkyu-san

The precincts contain a statue of Ikkyu from his training days and a stone Buddha, making it perfect for a stroll.

Shuonan Ikkyuji Temple

102 Taki Satonouchi, Kyotanabe City, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening hours: 9:00-17:00 *Treasure Hall: 9:30-16:30
Admission fee: Adults 500 yen, high school students 400 yen, junior high school students 300 yen, elementary school students 200 yen

Manpukuji Temple
A temple where you can experience the deliciousness of Fucha cuisine and the spirit of Zen


The dynamic temple that can be seen at the back of the spacious grounds has a somewhat exotic atmosphere. No wonder, Manpukuji is a temple built by Zen Master Ingen Ryuqi, a high priest of the Ming Dynasty in China.


When you step into the Tennoden, the plump Hotei-sama, shining golden, is right in front of you. This style is said to be common in Chinese temples. A style different from that of Japanese temples can be seen throughout, such as the swastika-designed balustrade, arched ceiling, circular windows, and peach fruit decorations carved into the doors.

Law hall Law hall

The Hatto Hall is an important cultural property. The plaque on the Shumidan ``Hodo'' is a calligraphy written by Ingen. The column in front of the hall has a pattern of swastika.

In addition to architectural styles, Ingen Zenji also brought many other things to Japan. As his name suggests, he also introduced vegetables such as kidney beans, watermelon, and lotus roots, as well as Chinese-style vegetarian cuisine called ``Pucha ryori.'' Fucha means ``to serve tea with the general public.'' At Manpukuji Temple, the spirit is to share the food served on large celadon platters with everyone, gather together in different seats, and enjoy the meal. If you visit Manpukuji Temple, you should try Fucha cuisine.


One of the characteristics of Manpukuji is that it aims to be an open temple, with an artist-in-residence that provides studios and space for young artists to exhibit their works, and a cafe space. It is a temple that remembers the enterprising spirit that Ingen Zen Master embodied, with its beautiful Chinese style, fucha cuisine, and artist-in-residence.


fucha cuisine fucha cuisine

Shunkan (an assortment of boiled seasonal vegetables and dried foods), mafu (sesame tofu), modoki (a dish that resembles kabayaki or kamaboko), and yuji (a dish with flavor added to the ingredients and batter itself) The cooking methods and presentation of the dishes, such as dishes similar to deep-fried chicken (deep-fried chicken), are different from Japanese vegetarian cuisine, and many of them are rare. Originally, it was served in portions for each person on a large celadon platter and eaten together in a friendly manner, but as a preventive measure against infectious diseases, it is now being presented in bento format with individual portions. Lunch only. Please make a reservation by noon three days in advance.

wooden fish wooden fish

The large carved wooden fish hanging in the corridor in front of the Saido (restaurant) is a mokgyo. It is used to notify meal time. Ingen Zenji also brought the original shape of the mokgyo that you see in every temple. The person who poked the wooden fish was Hiromichi Yoshino of Manpukuji Temple.

artist in residence artist in residence

Manpukuji's new initiative, Artist in Residence. It provides young artists with an atelier and exhibition space where they can freely create. There is also a cafe space right next to it.

Manpukuji Temple

34 Gokasho Sanbanwari, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening hours: 9:00-17:00 *Reception until 16:30
Admission fee: Adults 500 yen, University and high school students 500 yen, Junior high school and elementary school students 300 yen


The Minamiyamashiro area, which is about a 30 to 1 hour drive from Kyoto city, is a place that even those who love Kyoto have not been able to explore in depth. The many historic old temples that can be found in the countryside are definitely places you should visit. For tourist information and access information for the southern area of ​​Kyoto Prefecture, please visit the Kyoto Yamashiro Area Promotion Company (General Incorporated Association)Tea Kyoto DMO)is convenient. You can get detailed information about the Minamiyamashiro area, so you can plan your own trip. In the second part, we tour tea plantations and visit Kyoto as a tea producing region.

Photography by Noriko Kawase

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