Known for its five-storied pagoda in Minami-ku, Kyoto, Toji Temple is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyoto that boasts numerous national treasures and important cultural properties. It is also registered as a World Heritage site as “an ancient Kyoto cultural asset”.
Toji, located in Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto, is called the “Kyoogokoku-ji Temple” in the main temple of Toji Shingon sect. In 1934, it was designated as a national historic site, and in 1994 it was registered as a World Heritage site as a “cultural property of ancient capital Kyoto”. This is a Buddhist temple sightseeing spot that has many attractions such as national treasures and important cultural properties. The five-storied pagoda that can be seen from the city of Kyoto and the Shinkansen is a must-see for sightseeing in Kyoto. Toji is an important Buddhist temple that is indispensable for learning about the history of Buddhism in Japan.
Toji Temple, one of the most famous tourist spots in Kyoto, was built in 796 to protect the capital when it moved from “Heijokyo” (the southern capital from 710 to 784 located in Nara) to “Heiankyo” (the ancient capital in Kyoto). Toji was built in the east and west of Rajomon Gate, the main gate of Heian-kyo, and was paired with Sai-ji. However, Sai-ji seems to have disappeared after the Sengoku period.
Toji Temple in Kyoto was built in 796 by Emperor Kanmu. Later, in 823, he was awarded to Kukai (Kobo Daishi), who learned Shingon Buddhism from Tang Dynasty, and prospered as the fundamental dojo of Shingon Buddhism. Since the Middle Ages, To-ji has become a popular temple of Odaishi-sama (Kobo Daishi).
Kukai is the founder of the Shingon sect of the Heian period, also known as “Kobo Daishi”. He moved to Tang as a ambassador to Tang at the age of 30 and studied Buddhism. Along with Nichiren of Nichiren Buddhism, Saicho of Tendai Buddhism, and Shinran of Jodo Shinshu, it is one of the most important figures in the history of Japanese Buddhism.
Admission fee is free for Miei-do and cafeteria, but Kondo Hall, auditorium and five-storied pagoda are charged. You can also copy in the cafeteria, so it’s a good experience to try if you have time.
Kondo, the national treasure of Toji Temple in Kyoto, was completed in 1603 by Hideyori Toyotomi after the building that was built in 1486 burned down. In Kondo Hall, there are statues such as the main monument, Yakushi Nyorai, which is designated as an important cultural property, and the “Twelve Gods” statue, which is supposed to protect the believers of Yakushi Nyorai.
Kyoto Toji’s national treasure building, Miei Hall (Daishi Hall), is the building that Kukai used to live in. The “Kobo Daishi statue” enshrined in the hall is considered to be the oldest Daishi statue in existence and has been designated as a national treasure. In front of this statue, “Shojinku” (meals for Kobodaishi) will be held every morning at 6am, offering breakfast to the master.
The five-storied pagoda, the national treasure building of Kyoto Toji, is 54.8 meters high and is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. It is said that it was built by Kukai in 826, but it was actually built at the end of the 9th century after Kukai. Since then, it has been burned down five times by lightning and arson, and the current tower was built in 1644 with the donation of Tokugawa Iemitsu.
Inside the five-storied pagoda, “Ryokai Mandala” (a work attributed to Shingonin Mandala) and “Image of Shingon Hasso” (painting of the behavior of the eight founders of Shingon) are drawn on the walls and pillars, and several Buddha statues are enshrined on all sides. The inside of the tower is normally closed, but it may be open to the public at the time of the special opening of the treasure house in spring and autumn. The five-storied pagoda in the cherry blossom season is really beautiful.
Toji Temple has about 200 cherry blossoms on its precincts, but the most recommended of these is the 130-year-old Yae Crimson Weeping Cherry Tree “Fuji Sakura”.
The cherry blossoms are lit up every year, depending on the cherry blossom season, from late March to mid-April. It is lit up from 18:30 to 22:00, and you can enter from the special entrance of the East Gate, but you cannot enter the hall or auditorium.
Toji Temple, just a short walk from Kyoto Station, is the official name Kyoogokoku-ji Temple, one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyoto. There is the five-storied pagoda which is a symbolic existence of Kyoto, and it is also known as a cherry blossom or autumn leaves point. Toji Temple, one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Kyoto, was built in 796 when the capital was transfered to Heiankyo from Heijokyo, to protect the capital. It is a Toji Temple built in pair with Sai-ji Temple on the east and west of Rajomon Gate which is the main gate of Heiankyo, but the Sai-ji Temple seems to have disappeared after the Warring States Period.
In 1994, Toji Temple was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage as “Cultural Heritage of Ancient Kyoto”. Because it has many national treasures and important cultural assets, it was judged to have historical and cultural value.
The five-storied pagoda was built in 826 by Kukai of Kobo Daishi (posthumous title of the priest Kukai) following Kondo Hall. It was not finished during the life of Kukai, it was completed about 50 years after he died. The height is 54.8 meters, boasting the highest height in Japan as a wooden tower. It was destroyed many times after its creation and the existing ones were rebuilt by Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1644.
Kondo Hall was first built at the time of foundation of Toji Temple. It was destroyed in Tsuchi ikki (or Do ikki, peasant uprising) in 1486, and it was not rebuilt for nearly a century. Existing Kondo Hall was rebuilt by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, it is designated as a national treasure.
Toji Temple is famous also for the beauty of autumnal leaves, and lighting is performed at night at the time of the autumnal leaves. Lighting will be performed from the end of October to early in December every year. It will be lit between 18:30 and 21:30.
Toji Temple has many areas that can be enjoyed throughout the year, but you can enjoy even more when you visit the event such as cherry blossom light up, autumn leaves, “Kobo Market” etc. When a special exhibition is held, there are times when you can see non-public places usually, so please check with the official web page etc. Besides that there are plenty of places to see.
|Address:||Kujocho 1 Kyoto Minami-ku, Kyoto 601-8473 Japan|
|Access:||Kintetsu Kyoto-sen Line “Toji-eki Station” (10 minutes walk)|
|Price/Charge:||The admission fees vary depending on facilities. It also depends on the season. (From 500 yen)|
Please refer the official web page.