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Why Shinnyodo is special ?
Shinnyodo (真如堂, Shinnyodō) is a temple of the Tendai Sect, established in 984 by a priest from the important Enryakuji Temple. Off the beaten tracks of Kyoto, Shinnyodo is a beautiful autumn color spot which provides lovely fall colors usually around late November, but yet remains relatively less crowded.
The temple's halls were destroyed during the Onin War (1467-1477), but fortunately its principle image of Amida Buddha was rescued. After a couple of relocations, this image was once again enshrined at the present location in 1693 when the temple was rebuilt. Today, Shinnyodo's premises encompass quite a large area with multiple buildings, including a three-storied pagoda. Most of the temple grounds are free to enter, but a fee is required to enter the inner chamber of the main hall and to see temple's gardens.
What to explore at Shinnyodo?
Visitors to the main hall's ornately decorated inner chamber will immediately notice a large gold leaf canopy, as well as other lavish embellishments and ritual props. The chamber also houses statues of Monju Bodhisattva and Saicho, the founder of Tendai Buddhism in Japan. Two huge beautiful paintings are alternately displayed every six months: one depicts the passing of the Historical Buddha while another is a mandala that illustrates the Pure Land of Pure Land Buddhism.
Also located in the paid zone and connected to the main hall by a corridor, are a few more rooms with elegant paintings on their sliding doors (fusuma). From these rooms it is possible to view the temple's gardens, including a contemporary dry garden which reproduces a Japanese family crest with geometrically arranged stone patterns, and another dry garden that tries to represent the above mentioned painting of the passing of the Buddha with rocks, gravel and trees.
How to get to Shinnyodo?
Shinnyodo Temple stands in the same general district as Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), about a 20 minute walk from Ginkakuji. From Kyoto Station, it can be reached by Kyoto City Bus number 5 in about 35 minutes (230 yen). Get off at the Shinnyodo-mae bus stop from where it is a five minute walk to the temple.
- Beautiful foliage
- Off the beaten track ; avoid the crowds
- One of our favorites in Kyoto
- Unique garden, buildings well-kept
- Quiet & Serene Temple Complex with beautiful Autumncolours
Japan 〒606-8414 京都府京都市左京区浄土寺真如町８２
Tips for you
On the grounds, around seventy cherry blossom trees, including someiyoshino and yaezakura, are planted, and in the middle, you can see the small-white flowers of the rare tatekawazakura variety as well. The large Main Hall contains the standing image of AmitabhaTathagata, which can be viewed by the public only once a year in a special ceremony on November 15th. Shinnyo-do temple has a famous landscape garden, which is known as ‘garden of Nirvana.What to see
Most of the temple grounds are free to enter, but a fee is required to enter the inner chamber of the main hall and to see temple's gardens. To enter Hondo and Shoin: All except following: 500 yen High school students: 300 yen Junior high school students (7th - 9th graders): 200 yen Elementary school pupils and younger: freeTicket and Pricing
Off the beaten path for much of the year, it's an absolute must during the foliage season (momiji), as the maples light up with brilliant red. The best time to go in the fall/winter is from 3-5 pm (less people, and nicer sunset effects). The inner temple (for which there is the usual 500 yen charge), is also well-worth visiting because of its two rock gardens. Both gardens are relatively modern, so they are not as well-known or advertised. They are just as good as the famous ones, especially the "Nehan" (Nirvana) garden, which uses Mount Hiei as borrowed scenery. We both agreed that it was the one garden in Kyoto that we would like to return to if given the chance. We had the Nehan garden all to ourselves right before the temple closed for the day, and were warmly greeted by the local monk, who let us linger as he closed the sliding doors.