Daitokuji is so vast it can take more than a day to cover. Although entrance to the complex itself is free, many of the sub-temples charge fees which can quickly add up. However, they are well worth seeing, especially the ones we’ve highlighted below:
Ryogen-in is one of the oldest sub-temples to be found at Daitokuji. Built in 1502 by priest Tokei and run by three generations of the same family, it is an incredibly welcoming, family-friendly temple to enjoy.
Here, you can admire the dry gardens made of white sand raked to give the appearance of rippling water and stones representing the earth. Many of the temples share similar gardens, but this one is among the best.
Daisen-in was the headquarters of Oda Nobunaga, a warlord who attempted to unify warring Japan in the late Sengoku period. He was also buried on the grounds in 1582.
The gardens at Daisen-in are an idyllic spot for walking, much more green and lush than the minimal gardens at many of the other temples.
Juko-in, one of the more expensive temples in terms of entry fee, is home to a spectacular collection of Japanese art, many of which are considered National Treasures. Works by famous artists such as Shoei and Kano Eitoku are to be found here spread throughout the various rooms and halls.
Also find here a two-meter tall stone tombstone of tea master Sen-no-Rikyu along with a tearoom designed by the master himself. Each month, traditional tea ceremonies still take place here to preserve the art form.
Koto-in sub-temple was formally the headquarters of the Hosokawa clan, founded by the Hosokawa Tadaoki, a samurai who dedicated himself to Zen Buddhism in the early 15th century. The grounds are home to the tombs of Hosokawa and his wife Gracia, a famous Christian convert and daughter of legendary samurai general Akechi Mitsuhide.
Koto-in is also home to one of the loveliest gardens and walking paths in the whole complex.