Manshu-in is a Tendai Buddhist temple on the northeastern outskirts of Kyoto.
Founded in around 8th century on Mount Hiei by Tendai sect founder Saicho, Manshu-in is one of the five monzeki temples of the Sanmon school of the Tendai sect, along with Shoren-in, Myoho-in, Sanzen-in, Bishamon-do, all of which are located in Kyoto (Monzeki temples are temples where priests of aristocratic or imperial lineage presided over until the Meiji era).
After being relocated to another location on Mount Hiei in the 10th century, it moved to the present location in 1656. Living up to its prestigious history, it has a tasteful complex and a graceful garden.
Hondo (main hall), Kuri (residence) and Shoin (study) are designated as Important Cultural Properties, all of which were created in the 17th century. Its tea-ceremony house is also renowned.
Its main garden, which is listed as a Place of Scenic Beauty by the state, is celebrated for its beauty – it is beautiful throughout the year, but it’s particularly famous for azalea blossoms in May and colored leaves in autumn.
In autumn the garden is illuminated at night and green tea is served. Note that since this area is relatively close to mountains, it is a little colder than central Kyoto, thus foliage turning red somewhat earlier here in fall.
The temple possesses a number of valuable paintings also. Of them, a picture of tiger painted on fusuma is done by renowned painter Kano Eitoku (1543–1590), and the wall paper of the Bamboo Room finished in the Edo period has the oldest surviving wood-block pictures printed on it.
Where to eat around Manshu-in
This is a popular confectioner selling both Western and traditional Japanese sweets. Well-known in particular is kinugoshi-ryokucha tiramisu, literary meaning “silken green tea tiramisu,” which goes well with various kinds of tea or coffee.
You can buy this via internet also although it takes several months because of its popularity, but you may be able to get some on the spot if you go directly to the store.
Sanshoku-omame tart and Decchi yokan is also popular. You can either takeout your confectionery or eat it at the tea corner of the store.
Where to stay around Manshu-in
Pension Kitashirakawa is a small budget hotel which is a 10-minute walk from Ginkaku-ji.
Kyonoen Machiya is a hostel using a 90-year-old machiya house. Not to be confused with Kyonoen Nishiya, which is not using a machiya-style building and is located at a different place.
Kitashirakawa Tennen Radium Onsen
This inn is located on the mountainside but is accessible by bus. Its baths uses water from a hot spring containing a high amount of radium. Other than communal baths, some guest rooms are equipped with a private bath. Its popular kaiseki course meals also use the water from the spring.
The Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto
The Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto is a luxury hotel located near Kokusai-kaikan Station at the end of the Subway Karasuma Line.
There are a French, a Chinese and two Japanese restaurants, along with a cafe and a bar. There’s also a beauty salon. It takes about 20 minutes to Manshu-in by car. You can rent a bike here, too.