Exploring the Daitoku-ji Area
Not far away from the famous Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple) and Ryoan-ji (popular for the rock garden), the more quiet and serene Daitoku-ji temple complex will get you the Zen garden experience you are looking for in Kyoto.
The temple complex of Daitoku-ji consists of nearly two dozen smaller temples and is surrounded by a typical residential area with lots of small local teashops and independent businesses. Guest House hachi picked up some of the mostbeautiful spots for sightseeing, tea and onsen in the northern area of Kyoto.
The entrance into the Daitoku-ji complex is free. However, the main buildings are usually not open to visitors, but you can see a typical layout of a zen monastery and adore the famous Sanmon, Hatto and Butsuden. As for the subtemples
Daisen-in, Ryogen-in and Koto-in, visitors have to pay a small admission fee for each temple, but it is totally worth it!
Daisen-in probably the most visited temple or the subtemples as tour buses stop by frequently. To avoid the crowds we highly recommend you to visit this temple last to enjoy the beautiful Zen gardens that surround the whole building. The temple itself is rather small, but the four Zen gardens are not to be missed by garden lovers.
Please keep in mind that this temple strictly prohibits taking pictures of the garden! If you want to see and learn about the garden, it is definitely a recommended spot.
Another highlight of Daisen-in is the oldest surviving example of tokunoma (alcove), that are still part of many traditional Japanese rooms.
The First Floor Japanese Room and the Second Floor Japanese Room at Guest House hachi both have a tokunoma space each.
If you are interested in dry landscape gardens, Ryogen-in offers you five Zen
gardens to admire. The most famous one, a representation of the universe, is
not to be missed by garden lovers. Furthermore, the painted fusuma (sliding doors) at Ryogen-in display gorgeous images of dragons and hermits.
As one of the most beautiful and photogenic gardens of the Daitoku-ji temple
complex, Koto-in impresses visitors with the long flagstone path through its
bamboo forest. During the path you go through three gates in total that
separate the spiritual center of the temple from the outer world.
The maple trees of Koto-in are especially popular during late November when the
colors of the leaves turn deep red and contrast with the moss garden in the
very back of the temple.
Spots for Tea
As a center of tea ceremony the Daitoku-ji area has some great spots for
purchasing tea or just having a nice tea moment with traditional Japanese sweets.
We picked up two beautiful local and authentic places for you to relax.
Kazariya – Aburi Mochi
North of the Daitoku-ji temple complex the 600 year old Kazariya aburi mochi (roasted glutinous rice sweet on a bamboo skewer and dipped in soybean sauce) shop serves wonderfull traditional Japanese sweets with green tea for 500 Yen. The shop’s ladies are extremely friendly and try to explain as much as possible to the visitors.
We at Guest House hachi love the independent local businesses of Kyoto and Kouroan’s success story is truly inspiring. As a relatively young business (for 10 years) the company is producing its own tea at six separate farms in Ujitawara, where Kyoto’s top quality tea grows. In store you can enjoy the delicious taste of different tea types, from matcha, sencha to gyokuro, with traditional Japanese sweets and sit on tatami to enjoy their beautiful old house. You can grind your own matcha and attend a tea ceremony here as well. Check out their homepage for more information.
How to get to Daitaku-ji from Guest House hachi?
Take the Kyoto City Bus 206 from Shimabaraguchi bus stop and get off at Daitakujimae bus stop.
The bus will take you directly to the temple within 30 minutes.