Temple

Daigo-ji, a temple where Toyotomi Hideyoshi held “Daigo no Hanami”

Daigo-ji is a Shingon Buddhist temple located in the southeastern part of Kyoto. Daigo-ji has numerous historic buildings including Goju-no-to, Yakushido and four other buildings designated as National Treasures.

Daigo-ji was founded in 874 by Rigen-daishi (Shobo), who was a grand-disciple of Kukai. He, guided by a deity called Yokoo Myojin, placed the statues of Juntei Kannon and Nyoirin Kannon on top of Mt. Kasatori and renamed the mountain Mt. Daigo.

 

Daigo-ji consists of three main areas: two are Shimo-Daigo and Sanbo-in at the base of Mt. Daigo, and the other is Kami-Daigo on top of the mountain. Kami-Daigo is 1.8 km (1.1 miles) up the mountain from Shimo-Daigo, and you must follow a steep trail to reach there. Mt. Daigo is known as a sacred mountain for Shugendo (a traditional religion based on mountain worship).

Shimo-Daigo was destroyed in the Onin War (1467-77) during the Muromachi period except for Goju-no-to (five-storied pagoda), but Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), the lord who unified war-torn Japan in the late 16th century, supported the reconstruction of the temple and held “Daigo no Hanami,” a huge cherry blossom viewing event, five months before his death.

 

First let’s take a look into Shimo-Daigo. Kondo, a National Treasure constructed in the late Heian period, was relocated here from present-day Wakayama Prefecture by Hideyoshi in 1600.

What stands out most in Shimo-Daigo is Goju-no-to, or the five-storied pagoda, erected in 951. This is also a National Treasure. It’s 38 meters (125 feet) in height but 12.8 meters of it is that of Sorin (the shaft on the roof), so the pagoda has a stubby appearance. On the first floor of the pagoda are wall paintings which are designated as National Treasures as well. Honden of Seiryugu was constructed in 1599 and is an Important Cultural Property.

Seiryugu enshrines Seiryu Gongen, the guardian of Daigo-ji. There are many more splendid buildings in Shimo-Daigo and Sanpo-in areas, so seeing these areas alone can be satisfying.

 

If you go up the mountain to Kami-Daigo, there are beautiful buildings generally unpainted. Yakushido, originally built in 907, was reconstructed in 1121 and is a National Treasure. Another National Treasure building in this area is Haiden of Seiryugu created in 1434.

There are many more things to see at this temple – a lot of pictures and sculptures, huge trees, ritual called Godai-rikison Ninnou-e held in February, and hanami (cherry blossom viewing event) in April.

 

Where to eat around Daigo-ji

Ajariryo Juan

Ajariryo Juan is a Japanese restaurant in Shimo-Daigo. It serves a wide variety of soba and udon noodles, along with traditional Kyoto cuisine like tofu dishes and yuba dishes, in a traditional-style building. A dish called yuba-don is especially well-known here.

 

Ugetsu Chaya

Ugetsu Chaya is another Japanese restaurant in Shimo-Daigo. Shojin ryori (Buddhist cuisine), udon noodles and soba noodles are what we recommend. They also provide coffee, tea, soft drinks, and sake liquor. As for dessert, anmitsu and zenzai are our recommendation.

 

Kanmi Teuchi-soba Shimomura

Kanmi Teuchi-soba Shimomura is a soba restaurant across the street from the west end of Daigo-ji. It offers zaru-soba, sansai (wild edible plants) oroshi-soba, herring soba, and the like.

 

Where to stay around Daigo-ji

If you want to see Daigo-ji and its surroundings, staying at Fushimi-Momoyama or Yamashina areas are good options.

 

Momoyama Onsen Tsukimikan

Momoyama Onsen Tsukimikan is a luxury ryokan-style inn located along the Ujigawa River and almost in front of Kangetsukyo Station.

Though rooms are in a traditional-style, beds are furnished instead of futon. Its large common bath draws in natural hot water containing hydrogen sulfide, which is good for your skin and can also mitigate nerve pain or rheumatism.

There’s also a restaurant which can serve traditional Kyoto course dinners and bento lunches.

 

Urban Inn Fushimi

Urban Inn Fushimi is a budget hotel close to Keihan Line Fushimi-Momoyama Station. There’s a coffee shop named Cafe de Choux Choux inside. Many shops and restaurants are around the hotel, so it’s a suitable location for a long-tern stay.

 

Hotel Brighton City Kyoto Yamashina

Hotel Brighton City Kyoto Yamashina is a hotel adjacent to Yamashina Station of the Keihan Keishin Line, the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line, and the JR Tokaido Line.

It is located in a very convenient place for transportation, its room rates are reasonable, and is a hotel highly received by guests. Brighton Kitchen, the restaurant at the hotel, provides grilled dishes and fusion cuisines.

 

Overview

Daigo-ji is a Buddhist temple which is a 10-minute walk from Daigo Station of the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line. It has large grounds with plenty of nature and historic architecture, enabling you to feel the atmosphere of the Heian period. Another advantage is that you can enjoy meals in the precincts.

Though there’s no hotels or inns around and you’ll need to accommodate somewhere around Fushimi-Momoyama or Yamashina, if you’re planning to visit other attractions in addition to Daigo-ji (and you probably are), this will not be such a big deal.

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