Kodai-ji Temple, Kyoto

Kodai-ji Temple, Kyoto

More than your average temple, Kodai-ji is like a cultural treasure chest curated by none other than Japan's widow-turned-nun extraordinaire, Nene. After her powerful husband, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, shuffled off this mortal coil in 1598, she planned her getaway and was fortunate to receive some major patronage from the new shogun. The result? A Zen temple dripping with style.

Before you even step foot in the gardens, brace yourself for an eyeful indoors. Painted 'fusuma' (sliding screens) and a dry landscape that morphs into different designs throughout the year will have you scratching your head like a Zen master pondering a puzzling koan.

Once you hit the gardens, get ready for some serious sensory overload. The upper and lower ponds are like nature's own Instagram filters, reflecting cherry blossoms or maple leaves in a dance of color and light. As you wander up the garden path, you'll stumble upon a memorial hall for Hideyoshi and Nene, while Hideyoshi's love for tea is on full display with two historical tea houses at the top of the hill. On your way back, don't miss the bamboo grove and the jaw-dropping Ryozen Kannon statue, standing tall as a war memorial since 1955.

Nearby, you'll find the subtemple of Entoku-in, where Nene spent her golden years. It may be smaller in scale, but it's big on elegance, with narrow passages and fusuma paintings that'll transport you back in time. And the cherry on top? The option of a green tea set in front of one of Japan's most dynamic rock gardens, ready to soothe your soul after a day of temple-hopping.

Why You Should Visit:
Because Kodai-ji isn't just a temple—it's a whole day's worth of adventure wrapped in a kimono of ancient charm. And while you're at it, you can take a stroll around the neighboring street to soak up Kyoto's timeless atmosphere.

Tip:
Admission gets you into a small museum down the hill, so don't miss it! And be prepared to climb more stairs than you can shake a stick at—just think of it as your daily workout with a side of enlightenment.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Kyoto. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Kodai-ji Temple on Map

Sight Name: Kodai-ji Temple
Sight Location: Kyoto, Japan (See walking tours in Kyoto)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Kyoto, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

Creating your own self-guided walk in Kyoto is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Walk on Philosopher's Path

Walk on Philosopher's Path

The Philosopher's Path in Kyoto winds its way for about 2 km along the canal that carries water from Lake Biwa to the foothills. Lined with cherry trees, this picturesque walking trail was named in honor of the famed Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitaro, who used to walk here as a part of his daily meditation in the first half of the 20th century. A popular spot for both locals and tourists,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Imperial Kyoto Walking Tour

Imperial Kyoto Walking Tour

The former capital of Japan, Kyoto is the city of tradition. During its heyday, Imperial Kyoto was the cultural and political heart of the country. At the heart of its historical landscape, there are several iconic landmarks, each bearing witness to the city's imperial past.

Nijo Castle, an architectural marvel renowned for its elegant design and elaborate gardens, boasts impeccably...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Kyoto Shopping and Food Tour

Kyoto Shopping and Food Tour

The cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto is just as famous as a shopper’s paradise and, without a doubt, the best place in the country to buy traditional and modern Japanese goods. Souvenirs, food, bargains, and various “one-of-a-kind items” are all up for grabs here.

In addition to its shopping scene, Kyoto boasts a rich culinary heritage, from Michelin-starred restaurants to humble street...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Higashiyama Walking Tour

Higashiyama Walking Tour

Kyoto is a city catering to tourists, especially those who love history, religion, and, of course, Japanese culture. Many of Kyoto's attractions are found in the eastern part of the city, which itself is split into wards. One of them is the Higashiyama Ward, home to several famous temples, where the look and the feel of feudal-era Japan are still preserved.

One of Higashiyama's most...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Arashiyama and Bamboo Grove Walking Tour

Arashiyama and Bamboo Grove Walking Tour

The Arashiyama district of Kyoto is slightly out of the way for tourists, but that means you can enjoy it more comfortably.

Undoubtedly, the most popular attraction here is the iconic Bamboo Grove, a mesmerizing forest of towering bamboo stalks that sway gently in the breeze, creating an ethereal atmosphere. This serene setting is a must-visit for travelers seeking tranquility amidst...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Gion District Walking Tour

Gion District Walking Tour

Famed as one of the most mesmerizing parts of Kyoto, Gion has long been associated with traditional Japanese entertainment, stunning temples, geishas, and local eateries, ideal for whiling away a day in the ancient capital of Japan. This district forms part of the Higashiyama (“Eastern Mountain”) neighborhood.

Among its notable landmarks is the Minamiza Kabuki Theater, a venue where...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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