The Daitoku-ji Temple or the Zen Temple of Great Virtue, is one of the most important temples as head of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism, founded on 1319.
Within its temple grounds stood the 22 subtemples, but only four are open for public and some have temporary special openings. It is said to be one of the best places to see Zen architecture and culture.
The grave of the renowned warlord Oda Nobunaga is also rested in Sokenin, one of the subtemples, which is usually unaccessible by public. In the old days, the warlords Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi were tea ceremony practitioners in the temple, which has become the center of tea ceremony after its reconstruction.
The Butsuden Hall is the only main building in the temple where visitors can see and explore up to its interior.
The most popular spot in the temple is Daisenin, which is open to public around the year. It is said to be the earliest building to have an alcove, an important architectural design that is still used in modern tatami rooms. It also has high-value fusuma or sliding doors inside.
There are also beautiful dry rock gardens within the temple. One is adjacent to Daisenin, representing mountains and islands divided with the white gravel formed like ocean current.
Ryogenin is another principal subtemple that also has its own dry rock garden that represents the universe, and islands of rocks and moss, as a crane and turtle--the symbols of health and longevity. The laid-back ambience of Kotoin gives another Zen experience, especially in fall, where it shows-off its autumnal beauty. Lastly, the Suihoin, the temple's main garden, is also worth a visit.
From Kyoto Station, take a bus ride on bus numbers 101, 205 or 206 and alight to Daitoku-ji-mae bus stop. Alternatively, you can also take Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station, where you can reach the temple via 15-minute walk.
Here are the schedules of the different attractions and sites within the building:
Daisenin is open from 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30 from December to February). It is open all year round, and admission costs 400 yen.
Daisenin is open from 9:00 to 16:30. It is open all year round, and admission costs 350 yen.
Kotoin is open from 9:00 to 16:30 (entry until 16:20), and admission costs 400 yen.
Zuihoin is open from 9:00 to 17:00. It is open all year round, and admission costs 400 yen.
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