Attraction 4 Sagaosawacho Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8411 Japan Published on: 28-02-2016
|1 hours 30 mins|
|09:00 AM - 05:00 PM|
Temple & Monument
Daikaku-ji Temple is good for
- Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
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Why Daikaku-ji Temple is special ?
Daikakuji (大覚寺) is a large temple in the northern part of Kyoto's Sagano district. It was originally built in the early 800s as the detached palace of Emperor Saga, who thoroughly enjoyed spending time in this calm area on the outskirts of Kyoto. Thirty years after the emperor's death, the palace was converted into a temple and has since been one of the highest ranked temples of Shingon Buddhism.
Daikakuji has had a role in several significant historical events. A succession of retired emperors reigned from here, and in the 12th century the temple hosted peace talks that reunited the Northern and Southern Imperial Courts after 50 years of civil war. Daikakuji is also featured in the Tale of Genji, the first novel in Japanese literature. Today, the temple is one of the best places to still feel the ancient court atmosphere described in the novel and is often used for filming historical dramas.
What to explore at Daikaku-ji Temple?
Before you enter the entrance of the building, take a look at the outdoor flower display on the left. These are Ikebana. They are on display because Daikaku-ji Temple is also the head school of the Sagagoryu school of Ikebana. After you enter the building, your excursion through a series of long wooden corridors begins. As you follow the route guides, you will walk by two typical noble style buildings, called Shinden-zukuri and Shoin-zukuri. Both were used by emperors or high level nobles. Then the corridor bends a few times around the perimeter of a big dry garden and leads you Godai-do Hall. This hall has a wide wooden terrace facing a beautiful man-made pond, Osawa-no-ike Pond. The view from this open terrace is really great.
How to get to Daikaku-ji Temple?
13 to 19 minutes from Kyoto station to Saga-Arashiyama station on JR railway San'inHonsen line. Then 15 minutes on foot.
52 minutes from Kyoto station to Daikaku-ji on Kyoto City Bus No. 28 or Kyoto Bus No. 71 and 1 minute on foot. Both buses are bound for Daikaku-ji.
20 minutes on foot from Arashiyama station of Keifuku Railway Arashiyama
- Peaceful walk in the rain
- Beautiful shrines and paintings
- Amazing gardens and shrines
- The best temple/shrine/castle/pavilion so far in Japan
- One of the most underrated temples
4 Sagaosawacho Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8411 Japan
Tips for you
You can slowly enjoy many architectonic details of Shinden-zukuri style, characteristic style of Heian period in Japan, and also Shoin-zukuri style that developed from it. Next door to the temple is Osawa Pond, a 1200 year old man made body of water that is the oldest and last surviving (albeit incomplete) example of a Shinden style garden. You can walk around the garden, visit the buildings and enjoy the natural scenery around the pond.Things to do
Daikaku-ji Temple (大覺寺) is located in the Arashiyama (嵐山) area, northwest of Kyoto Station. Daikaku-ji was founded in the early Heian period (平安時代), and it belongs to Shingon Buddhist sect (真言佛教宗派), which was founded by Kobo-Daishi Kukai. Daikaku-ji Temple was a detached palace of Emperor Saga, and it was later converted to a temple in 876 by his daughter, the Empress Dowager Seishi. The current buildings at Daikaku-ji Temple are from the 16th century and onwards. The Shinden (宸殿) has been designated as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government, and the entire temple grounds were also designated as a national historic site. The famous cherry blossoms in spring, thousands of lotus flowers in summer, leaf color change in autumn, and the snow-white landscape in winter make it a popular year round tourist destination. We visited the temple during a cold January, and there were fewer visitors. Once we entered the buildings, we found that those buildings were connected with wooden corridors. It was easy to explore Daikaku-ji Temple by following the signs. The Entrance Hall of Shikidai has beautiful walls with paintings on gold foil-pressed paper. The Entrance Hall only opens to the public on special occasions, and we were so lucky to see it. If you pay extra attention, you will see some beautiful Ikebana on display. This is because the headquarters of Saga Goryu ikebana was founded here some 1,200 years ago. Shinden Hall was the residence of the Imperial family. We also saw the beautiful paintings on those sliding doors inside the building. You can imagine how the ancient nobilities' everyday life looked like. Godai-do Hall (五大堂) has a wide, wooden terrace facing the beautiful man-made pond, Osawa-no-ike Pond (大澤池). Osawa Pond is also famous for its Harvest Moon Festival in autumn and is an ideal place to view the moon. There are many halls in the Daikaku-ji Temple, and you can take your time to enjoy them all. Daikaku-ji Temple opens daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The admission fee is 500 yen for adults. You can take the JR San'inHonsen line from Kyoto station to Saga-Arashiyama station, then walk for about 15 minutes. You can also take Kyoto City Bus No. 28, or Kyoto Bus No. 71 from Kyoto station to Daikaku-ji, and it is only 1 minute on foot away from the stop.