If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto’s city center, Ninnaji Temple could be just what the doctor ordered. Located in the northwest part of the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a stunning example of traditional Japanese architecture and design.
Originally built in 888, Ninnaji Temple has a history that spans over a thousand years. The temple was founded by Emperor Uda, who converted his former palace into a place of worship after abdicating the throne. Today, Ninnaji Temple is one of the most important temples in Kyoto.
The World Heritage site was founded in 888 by Emperor Uda, who wanted to build a temple to commemorate his father, Emperor Kōkō. The temple was originally called Omuro Palace, and it was used as a residence for retired emperors.
In 886, a rebellion broke out in Kyoto, and the city was burned to the ground. Emperor Uda decided to rebuild the city and ordered the construction of temples, including Ninnaji. The temple was completed in 888 and was named Ninnaji after the year of its completion.
Over the years, Ninnaji has been destroyed and rebuilt times. The temple was destroyed by fire in 1467 during the Onin War, and it was rebuilt in 1637. The current buildings at Ninnaji were constructed during the Edo period (1603-1868).
Ninnaji is known for its beautiful gardens and architecture. The temple is home to important cultural assets, including the five-story pagoda, which is the oldest extant pagoda in Kyoto. The temple is also home to important works of art, including paintings by the famous Japanese artist, Kano Eitoku.
The main hall of the temple, called the Omuro Palace, is a prime example of the architectural style used in the Heian period. The palace is a designated National Treasure of Japan and is known for its intricate wood carvings and vibrant colors. The palace is surrounded by a beautiful garden that is famous for its cherry blossom trees.
Another notable structure at Ninnaji Temple is the five-story pagoda, which was built in the early 17th century. The pagoda is the tallest structure in the temple complex and is a popular spot for visitors to take photos. The pagoda is also a designated National Treasure of Japan.
The temple also features other buildings, including the Mieido Hall and the Kannon Hall. The Mieido Hall is known for its beautiful ceiling paintings, while the Kannon Hall houses a statue of the Buddhist deity Kannon.
As you stroll through the grounds of Ninnaji Temple, you will be struck by the beauty of the gardens. The temple is famous for its stunning Japanese gardens, which are a prime example of the traditional gardening style known as “kare-sansui” or dry landscape gardens. These gardens are designed to evoke a sense of tranquility and harmony with nature, and they are a attraction for any visitor to the temple.
The gardens at Ninnaji Temple are divided into sections, each with its own unique features. One of the most impressive parts of the gardens is the Omuro Garden, which is behind the main hall of the temple. This garden is designed to represent the Pure Land of Amida Buddha, and it features a large pond with small islands, as well as a large rock formation that represents the Buddha himself.
Another highlight of the gardens is the Goten Garden, which is near the former residence of the head priest. This garden is designed in the “chisen-kaiyu” style, which means that it features a central pond with a path that winds around it. The garden is also home to beautiful cherry blossom trees, which bloom in the spring and attract many visitors to the temple.
As you explore Ninnaji Temple, you’ll find a wealth of treasures that showcase the temple’s rich history and cultural significance. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Omuro Cherry Tree: This stunning cherry tree is over 500 years old and blooms with delicate pink flowers each spring.
- Five-Storied Pagoda: This impressive pagoda stands at 31 meters tall and is one of the tallest in Japan.
- Kondo Hall: The main hall of Ninnaji Temple is a designated National Treasure and features intricate carvings and stunning gold leaf accents.
- Chokushi-mon Gate: This gate is the oldest surviving structure at Ninnaji Temple and dates back to the 17th century.
Festivals and Events
If you’re lucky enough to visit Ninnaji Temple during one of its festivals or events, you’ll be in for a treat. The temple hosts events throughout the year, each with its own unique significance and traditions.
One of the most popular events held at Ninnaji is the Omuro Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place in early April. During this time, the temple’s grounds are adorned with stunning pink cherry blossoms, and you can enjoy traditional Japanese music performances and tea ceremonies.
Another event worth checking out is the Omizutori Fire Festival, which takes place in early March. This festival involves a series of fire rituals, including the lighting of large torches and the burning of sacred scrolls. It’s believed that participating in these rituals can bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
If you’re interested in Japanese culture and history, be sure to visit Ninnaji during the temple’s annual Reihokan Exhibition. This exhibition showcases historical artifacts and treasures from the temple’s collection, including rare Buddhist statues and ancient calligraphy scrolls.
If you’re heading to Ninnaji Temple, there are a few things you should know before you go. First, the temple is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm every day, except during the New Year’s holiday period when it is closed. Admission to the temple is 500 yen for adults and 300 yen for children.
When you arrive, you will need to remove your shoes before entering the main hall. There are shoe lockers available near the entrance for you to store your shoes in while you explore the temple. You may also want to bring a pair of socks to wear, as the floors inside the temple can be quite cold.
There are buildings and gardens to explore at Ninnaji Temple, so give yourself plenty of time to see everything. The main hall, called the Goten, is a designated National Treasure and features beautiful paintings and carvings. The Omuro Palace is another must-see building, with its stunning architecture and intricate details.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history and significance of Ninnaji Temple, you can join a guided tour. Tours are available in English and Japanese, and cost 1,000 yen per person.
Finally, be sure to stop by the temple gift shop before you leave. Here you can find souvenirs and traditional Japanese crafts to take home with you as a reminder of your trip to Ninnaji Temple.