Daikaku-ji Temple in Kyoto

Daikaku-ji, one of Kyoto’s oldest temples, was originally the imperial villa of Emperor Saga (786-842), a skilled calligrapher with deep cultural interests and said to have been the first emperor to imbibe tea. It was designated a temple by imperial decree in 876, honoring the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi (774-835), as the Temple of Great Enlightenment. Its spacious grounds and remote location in the Sagano district of far western Kyoto still grace ancient Daikaku-ji with fresh countryside air and expansive sky above distant mountain views. The temple’s Reihoukan Museum exhibits rare historical art masterpieces.

Daikaku-ji Temple in Kyoto Photo Gallery



Daikaku-ji’s many temple halls of palatial architectural perfection are connected by an intricate network of covered wooden corridors with low ceilings intended to inhibit swordplay and uguisu-bari “nightingale floors” for discouraging stealthy intruders. A large wooden veranda at Godaido, Daikaku-ji’s main hall where sutras are still transcribed each day, overlooks Emperor Saga’s Osawa Pond, the oldest man-made garden pond in Japan, with its tiny Chrysanthemum Island and abundant waterfowl. The centuries have naturally integrated Daikaku-ji’s garden landscapes with the surrounding satoyama hills and mountain background, never more so than under a full Harvest moon, when one might imagine elegant courtiers afloat on a moon-viewing soirée.

An autumn boat ride on Osawa Pond.

The Murasame Corridor has low ceilings to deter swordplay and squeaky “nightingale floors” to discourage intruders.

Peak fall colors in the courtyard garden at Reimeden Hall.

Tea attendants in matching kimono.

A shaped akamatsu red pine is living garden sculpture.

A procession of monks at the Shoshin-den Hall.

Source: Travels Finders

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