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Explore Three Hidden Shrines Of Kyoto

These lesser-known shrines in the cultural capital of Japan are worth a visit

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Priyanka Kapoor
June 12, 2023
Explore Three Hidden Shrines Of Kyoto

Known as the “Capital of Peace and Tranquility,” Kyoto is a city of shrines and a hub of culture in Japan, with architectural expression dating back to the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1574–1600). The city has 1,660 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shinto shrines. As a central city in the “Golden Triangle” route of Japan, it sees a throng of thousands of tourists bustling about. If you’d rather seek respite in a quiet shrine near traditional gardens or a secret corner near a koi pond, here’s a list of a few hidden shrines in Kyoto that might be worth the visit.

Myoshinji Temple

Located in northwest Kyoto, Myoshinji is considered one of Kyoto’s largest Zen Buddhist complexes. Despite this, it is nowhere near as famous as Fushimi Inari. Given its sprawling acres, visitors can enjoy quiet strolls around the spacious complex. A bell from 698 BC, allegedly the oldest in Japan, can be found in this 14th-century temple. Another well-known artefact here is a painting of a dragon that appears to be looking at you from multiple directions.

Where: 64 Hanazono Myoshinji-cho, Ukyo, Kyoto, 616-8035, Japan

Myomanji TempleWith adjacent spaces such as the Yukinoniwa Garden, Myomanji Temple is an ideal destination for those who like to blur the lines between rest stops and travel milestones. Dedicated to Nichiren Buddhism, the Myomanji temple is built as a mirror image of the famed stupa at Bodh Gaya in India, the place where the historical Buddha gained enlightenment. The grounds are raked with sand and gravel. As you walk around the premises, you can enjoy some spectacular views of Mount Hiei.Location: 91 Iwakura Hataedacho, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606-0015, Japan

Honen-In TempleHonen-in is a rustic temple of the Jodo sect, with raked-stone gardens (byakusadan). Famous for its Amida Buddha statue, the temple is set beside a traditional Japanese bridge and a koi pond. While the outdoor settings invite all the colours of the respective season, inside, the temple houses many paintings by Kano Mitsunobu, a 17th-century Japanese artist. An exhibition of his works is held here in the first two weeks of April and the first week of November.Location: 30 Shishigatani, Goshonodan-cho, Sakyo, Kyoto, Japan

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