KYOTO’S TEMPLES – Japan’s Most important religious hubs

Jaipur, like Florence or Kyoto, other artisan-rich cities to which it roughly compares, has always been known for its craftsmanship.

~Hanya Yanagihara

There are literally 1600 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Kyoto. Kyoto is the best place in Japan to immerse yourself in Japanese religious life and sacred architecture. Kyoto is vast in terms of its rich cultural heritage – the material endowment of over a thousand years as the country’s imperial capital. The city’s numerous palaces, shrines, temples and other landmarks are spread out over the city.

With everything from tiny local Kyoto temples to soaring religious monuments, Kyoto has something for everyone – you can literally find your own private temple and spend an afternoon in quiet contemplation. And, best of all, shrines and temples contain the finest gardens in the land.

Most Famous Kyoto Temples

1. The Golden Temple – Kinkakuji in Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto Temples images

Kinkakuji is perhaps the most well-known temple in Japan. The main pavilion is covered in gold leaf and shimmers in front of a tranquil pond – Kyoko-chi(Mirror Pond). The temple was originally built in 1397 as a villa for court noble Kintsune Saionji and greatly improved by its second owner, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who converted it to his retirement home and spent the latter part of his days there, away from the troubles of the state.

2. Fushimi Inari Shrine

Images of Kyoto Temples

Fushimi Inari Shrine is a glaring omission from the suggested itineraries in many travel guides. Taking up one entire side of Mt. Inari, this Shinto shrine is dedicated to Inari, a fox-shaped god who is depicted numerous times in the shrine. The Inari is thought to be the protector of grains, in particular, rice and thus sake. In Japan, that meant wealth. Even today the rich, and officials from companies, come to pay their respects.

3. Tofukuji Temple

Kyoto Temples Pictures

Tōfuku-ji is one of the best temples in Kyoto. It is best known for its massive gate – at 22 meters it is the largest in any Japanese Zen temple – and its Zen gardens within the Hojo (Abbot’s Hall). Tofukuji takes its name from a combination of the Todaiji and Kofukuji temples in Nara – the great founding temples of Japanese Buddhism. Tōfuku-ji is one of Kyoto’s most famous autumn foliage spots, and it is invariably packed during the peak of colors in November.


4. Ryoanji Temple

Famous Temples in Kyoto

The Ryoanji Temple is famous throughout the country for its rock garden. Tourists make their way to the site to marvel at its simplistic design and clever features. It is also distinct from many other temples because of its large pond with little islands in the middle. The area is rectangular and contains 15 large rocks lying on mossy beds. There are many disputed meanings behind the garden. It is said that only 14 of these can be seen from any one place in the temple.


5. Shōren-in Temple

Images of Famous Temples in Kyoto

Shoren-in Temple is one of the most beautiful Kyoto temples with its giant camphor trees growing just outside the walls. Shoren-in Temple is one of five Monzeki Temples in Kyoto where members of the Imperial family traditionally served as head priests. Shoren-in is a Tendai sect temple that was originally part of Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei in the northeastern part of Kyoto.