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Shokoku-ji, Kyoto


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

Shokoku-ji is a Buddhist temple founded in 1382. It is the headquarters of the Shokokuji branch of the Zen Rinzai School.


Formally known as Mannenzan Shōkoku Shōten Zenji (萬年山相國承天禅寺), Shōkoku-ji is the head temple of Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji (The Golden and Silver Pavillions).


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

Opening times and admission


Open 10 am to 4 pm, daily.

Admission is 800 Yen (400 yen for primary school students and 700 yen for those over 65 and middle school students).


According to their website, there are two special admission periods - during spring (24th of March to the 4th of June) when the Hojo, Hatto and bath are open, and during autumn (25th of September to the 15th of December) when the Hojo, Hatto and Kaisando are open to the public.


Jotenkaku Museum, located on the temple grounds, is open all year round from 10 am to 5 pm (admission is 800 yen). It displays numerous art exhibits as well as National Treasure and Important Cultural Property items.


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

How to get there


From:

  • Kyoto Station take the Karasuma Line to Imadegawa Station ( 9 minutes, 5 stops, 260 yen) then walk for 6-7 minutes to Shōkoku-ji Temple.

  • Kinkakuji temple, take city bus 59 (from the Kinkakuji-michi bus stop) to the Karasuma Imadegawa stop (20 minutes, 11 stops, 230 yen) then walk for 6-7 minutes to Shōkoku-ji Temple.

  • Ginkakuji temple, take city bus 203 (from Ginkakuji-michi bus stop) to Karasuma Imadegawa stop (14 minutes, 7 stops, 230 yen) then walk for 6-7 minutes to Shōkoku-ji Temple.

  • Kyoto Imperial Palace walk for about 5 minutes to reach the Imadegawa-Gomon Gate

Address: Japan, 〒602-0898 Kyoto, Kamigyo Ward, Sokokuji Monzencho, 701


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

Since 1392 when the construction of Shokokuji finished, the temple buildings have been completely or partially destroyed by fire numerous times.

The first time the whole temple complex was destroyed by fire was in 1394, with reconstruction finishing in 1407.


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

The Hatto or Dharma Hall which in this case also serves as a Butsuden (Buddha Hall) was last reconstructed in 1605 (the rebuilding was funded by Toyotomi Hideyori).

It is the oldest surviving Zen architecture Hatto in Japan and has been designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1950.


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

On the ceiling of the Hatto, you can see a large painting of a dragon (9 meters in diameter), which is said to be the work of Mitsunobu Kanō, (from Kano School of Japanese Painting).

It's an interesting image, as no matter what angle you look from in the room, it seems like the dragon is looking straight at you.

Photography is not permitted inside the lecture hall.


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

All the temple buildings are beautifully designed, but the Kyozo (the sutra repository built in 1860), Tenkyōrō (the new belfry, built in 2011) and the garden behind the Hojo were the structures which stood out to me the most.


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

I visited Shokoku-ji first in 2018 and, most recently in 2023, and on both occasions, I found it to be a beautiful and peaceful place. I highly needed that, especially after going to the most popular temples such as Kinkakuji or Nanzenji which most often are a bit too crowded for me to have enough time to truly appreciate their beauty.


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

How long does a visit to Shokoku-ji take?


There are numerous buildings in the temple complex, but most are not open to the public all year round.

If you're there to admire the beautiful temple buildings and to pay a visit to the museum, you can probably set aside 45 minutes to 1 hour for everything.

Depending on when you're planning to visit, you might spend extra time if the main buildings are open to the public, case in which I would add an extra 30 minutes at least.


Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto

Have you ever been to Shokokuji Temple? If so, I would love to hear about your visit there, in the comments below.

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I hope life is treating you well.

Take care.

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