We're sure that at the top of your Kyoto itinerary is visiting temples and gardens.
However, as this is many visitors to the ancient capital's plan, the most famous places are constantly crowded.
As the last thing, you probably want to be doing on your long-anticipated holiday is mingle with crowds at tourist spots, we've put together this article of temples and gardens in Kyoto that have managed to fly under the radar of most tourists.
We hope that you have a great time in Kyoto and are able to enjoy the elegance of this beautiful city's temples and gardens in peace!
Rokuo-in is a small temple in the Arashiyama area.
Arashiyama is one of the most popular spots in Kyoto and has numerous famous sights, like the Tenryu-ji Temple, Nonomiya Shrine, and, of course, the Bamboo Grove.
But a little way from the center of Arashiyama, there hidden among the still autumn leaves is Rokuo-in Temple.
Located in a quiet residential area, this temple is famous for the moss and maple trees that line the path leading to its halls.
Although not very big, this temple feels like you could spend hours just gazing at its beautiful scenery.
Even during autumn, the high season for the Arashiyama area, you can still enjoy the garden to yourself if you go early in the morning.
The freshly grown new leaves of May and June are also beautiful.
The garden of the Rokuo-in Temple is a “karesansui” rock garden, which translated directly means "dried mountain water."
The specific style of the garden is that of “shakkei," which as some of you may know, incorporates the mountains behind the garden into the design of the garden.
Simply looking at this garden gives you the feeling of being completely sucked into and surrounded by nature.
The dynamic scenery weaving the Shariden Hall, which houses Buddhist relics, and the mountains together is truly a sight to see.
Rokuo-in Temple and its magnificent garden can truly be called a sanctuary among the overly crowded tourist spots of the Arashiyama area.
Sitting 20-minutes from the JR Tofukuji Station, the Unryu-in Temple is a quant sub-temple of Sennyu-ji that you'd be hard-pressed to find in any guidebooks.
Inside the small temple, there is a garden and a study. The sliding doors in the picture above are in the “Renge no Ma" lotus room. Each of the four windows offers different, limited views of the garden.
Pictured above is one of the most famous places in Unryu-in Temple, the “Satori no Ma" room of enlightenment.
From the almost perfectly circular window, you can see plum blossoms in spring, autumn leaves in fall and freshly grown leaves in summer — the window is like a kaleidoscope of colors that offers something new every season.
The temple also has a quiet garden full of greenery.
When the weather's nice out, it's the perfect place to sit on the veranda and spend a quiet moment gazing out on.
Also, Unryu-in Temple is home to the oldest sutra copying hall in the whole of Japan and you can even try your hand at sutra copying as well. If you are looking for a quintessentially Kyoto experience, then calm your body at the garden of this quiet temple before calming your soul with sutra copying.
|Address||36 Sennyuji Yamanochicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City 605-0977|
|Open Hours||9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (5 p.m. close)|
Honen-in Temple is a 10-minute walk from that famous Ginkaku-ji Temple.
Despite its proximity to both the famous Philosopher’s Path and Ginkaku-ji Tempe, Honen-in Temple remains unbelievably quiet. As you enter the temple, you're given a sense of its wonderful taste with the traditional thatched roof of the gate.
After passing through the gate, you come to a path that has small mounds of white sand called “byakusadan” on both sides.
It's said that passing these mounds purifies one’s body and soul.
Pulsing with unbridled greenery, the Honen-in Temple grounds can be enjoyed entirely for free.
Enjoy a quiet stroll through the delicate and tranquil grounds of this temple loved by many a Japanese writer and scholar.
Murin-an is a garden that was built as the villa of Field Marshal Prince Yamagata Aritomo in the Meiji era.
Besides the garden, there is the main hall, tea ceremony room, and a western-style building with a turn of the century atmosphere. At Murin-an you can feel time slow down as you're treated to the aesthetics of Japanese wabi-sabi.
The entrance to the garden is really small so tall people need to be careful not to hit their heads.
Like a portal to another world, the tiny entrance opens up into a vast Japanese garden that is a registered place of scenic beauty in Japan. Using Mt. Higashiyama as a backdrop to the garden in the "shakkei" style, this "chisen-kaiyu-shiki" strolling pond garden treats you to the joys of nature through its grass, moss, ponds and waterfall.
Shisen-do Temple is a quiet mountain villa in the battleground of ramen that is Kyoto's northeastern Ichijoji area.
This mountain villa was built over 400 years ago at the beginning of the Edo period.
Shisen-do is a bit far from central Kyoto, meaning that it doesn't see many tourists and is one of the great hidden gems of the city.
After going through the small entrance, you are taken through a path of stone steps and bamboo trees.
As you walk through the bamboo forest, the rays of sunlight that fork their way through the thicket of towering trunks work to revigorate and reenergize you.
One of the main attractions of Shisen-do Temple, however, is the garden of white sand.
In fall, this garden is known for its autumn leaves and brilliant contrast created by the crimson of the wilting leaves and white sand.
In the garden, you can also hear the sound of a “shishi-odoshi” echoing through the garden and cutting through the serene atmosphere.
|Address||27 Monguchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi|
|Open Hours||9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (admissions close 4:45 p.m.)|
|Erika[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|