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Myōshin-ji Temple

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

1 Hanazonomyōshinjichō, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8035, Japan

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

JPY 500

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expert
Tomato
Local tour guide
"My recommendation for visiting Myoshin-ji Temple in Kyoto is to explore the smaller sub-temples within the complex, as they often have fewer visitors and provide a more serene experience. Don't miss the chance to participate in the Zen meditation sessions offered at some of these temples; it's a rare opportunity for a deeper understanding of Zen Buddhism that's not commonly known to tourists."

What is Myoshin-ji Temple?

Myoshin-ji Temple is a vast Zen temple complex located in the Ukyo Ward of Kyoto, Japan. It's not just a single temple but a collection of various sub-temples and buildings, each resonating with its own history and spiritual significance. The temple’s name translates to “Temple of the Marvelous Mind,” and it truly lives up to its name as it offers a serene environment reflective of its Zen Buddhist philosophies.

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I have walked these grounds countless times, and each visit uncovers something new—a hidden corner, a subtle detail on a temple wall, or the soft, rhythmic chant of monks in prayer. Myoshin-ji Temple is known for its intricate network of paths, traditional architecture, and the peaceful harmony it maintains with nature.

History of Myoshin-ji Temple

The origins of Myoshin-ji Temple date back to 1342, when the retired Emperor Hanazono converted his palace into this Zen temple. Today, when we stroll around the complex, we're actually retracing the steps of ancient royalty. The temple flourished under the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism and is now the head temple of one of the largest Zen sects in Japan.

Through centuries, Myoshin-ji has seen many iterations, with buildings being destroyed and restored due to the numerous fires and wars that have swept through Kyoto. Did you know that the temple was almost completely burnt down during the Ōnin War and had to be reconstructed? That's why the architecture you see today mostly dates from the Muromachi and later periods, which adds another layer to the temple's rich tapestry of history and resilience.

Why is Myoshin-ji Temple Important?

Myoshin-ji Temple is a cornerstone of Zen Buddhism in Japan. It serves as a beacon of spiritual learning and practice, housing the Shunko-in and Taizo-in sub-temples, which offer sessions on Zen meditation and opportunities to delve into the teachings of Zen.

Moreover, the temple complex is culturally significant because it showcases traditional Japanese architecture and gardens. It's also a vital link to the past, illustrating how Zen has shaped Japanese culture, arts, and the way of life. The fact that Myoshin-ji is still an active religious site where monks train, coupled with its open doors to visitors, makes it a living museum—melding the past with the present in a single breath.

Things to Do & See at Myoshin-ji Temple

Visiting Myoshin-ji is like peeling back layers of a profound story. You can participate in a guided zazen (seated meditation) at one of the sub-temples, which is an experience not easily forgotten. Imagine sitting in quiet contemplation, following the same ancient practices that have been passed down through generations of monks.

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As you walk around, you'll notice the subtle yet intricate details in the temple buildings. The Sanmon Gate, an Important Cultural Property, is particularly grand and is a popular subject for photographers. The temple also features a beautiful dry landscape garden (karesansui), which is a quintessence of Zen garden design.

The sub-temples—each with its own unique charm—are a must-see. While some may be closed to the public, several are open for visitors. Among them, the Tokei-an, known for its tea ceremony rooms and fusuma paintings, is a spot I find especially tranquil. And don't miss the chance to see the dragon ceiling painting in the Hatto (Dharma Hall), painted by the famous artist Koizumi Junsaku.

Frequently asked questions

What is Myoshin-ji Temple?

Myoshin-ji Temple is a large Zen Buddhist temple complex in Kyoto, Japan, known for its peaceful atmosphere, beautiful gardens, and historic buildings.

How do I get to Myoshin-ji Temple?

You can get to Myoshin-ji Temple by taking the JR train to Hanazono Station in Kyoto and walking for about 10 minutes, or by taking a bus from Kyoto Station to the Myoshin-ji mae bus stop.

What are the opening hours of Myoshin-ji Temple?

Myoshin-ji Temple's opening hours are typically from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but times may vary for different sub-temples and seasons, so it's best to check in advance.

Is there an entrance fee for Myoshin-ji Temple?

Yes, there is a small entrance fee for some of the sub-temples within the Myoshin-ji Temple complex, while others can be accessed for free.

Are there any special events or ceremonies at Myoshin-ji Temple?

Myoshin-ji Temple hosts various events and ceremonies throughout the year, including Zen meditation sessions and traditional Buddhist ceremonies. It's recommended to check the temple's official schedule before visiting.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

1 Hanazonomyōshinjichō, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8035, Japan

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

JPY 500

Find it on google maps