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Daitokuji Temple – The Largest Temple Complex in Kyoto

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Composed of 24 sub-temples, Daitokuji Temple is the largest in Kyoto. Prepare for your visit with our guide to the ins and outs of this huge complex.

Whatever the weather, wandering around Daitokuji Temple is an enchanting experience for any visitor. This huge complex is a warren of sub-temples and gardens which, to appreciate it to its fullest, should have hours or even days dedicated to it. Make the most of those hours with our comprehensive guide. 

Daitokuji Temple Overview

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Daitokuji Temple is located in Kyoto’s north, taking up of a significant chunk of land. It was established in the 14th century by Shuho Myocho, better known by his honorific name Daito Kokushi. Myocho is notable in the history of Zen Buddhism for his 20 years of voluntary homelessness on a mission toward enlightenment. It is said that upon learning of the homeless monk, the Emperor personally went to the bridge where he was living and recruited him to help design Daitokuji Temple. Over time the temple became a sprawling temple complex in which visitors today can roam freely, taking in the history, architecture, gardens and serenity unhindered.

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 Temple

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Provided by Foursquare

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.  

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Provided by Foursquare

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 Temple

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Provided by Foursquare

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. 

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Provided by Foursquare

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 Temple

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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.   

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Provided by Foursquare

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 Temple

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Provided by Foursquare

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.

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Tea ceremonies headquarter Provided by Foursquare

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Provided by Foursquare

Koto-in is also home to one of the loveliest gardens and walking paths in the whole complex. 

Visitor Information

To see everything the 24 sub-temples have to offer, ideally, a day or two is needed. 

­ 09.00am – 5:00pm (4:30pm Dec-Feb) 

­ Open 24/7

­ 075-491-0019

¥ 400 yen (average) 

­ Daitokujicho, Kyoto

­ Official Website

Map

53 Murasakino Daitokujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto

Access

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Provided by Foursquare

From Kitaoji Station take bus 12, 101, 102, 204 or 206, and alight at Daitokuji-Mae bus stop.

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Ines Smaili

Ines Smaili

Hi, I'm Inès, I love to travel all around the world especially in Japan, I will share with you all the information needed to have the best trip of your life!



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# Things to Do in Kyoto # Things to Do in Japan

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