Nisonin Temple in Kyoto

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  • Nisonin Temple with Mausoleum of Priest Tanku in Kyoto

    Mausoleum of Priest Tanku, Nisonin Temple in Kyoto

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Facts & Figures

Nisonin Temple also known as Ogurayama Nisonin Kadaiji belongs to the Tendai sect and is located on the foot of Mount Ogura within the Arashiyama district of Kyoto. The temple has a history of nearly 1200 years. People come here to enjoy the cherry blossom season (March - April), the beautiful hydrangeas (ajisai) in June, and the colorful fall foliage in November. The path leading up to the main hall offers the best scenery for these seasonal highlights. Nisonin enshrines two principal deities named Shaka Nyorai and Amida Nyorai in the main hall. These two revered statues painted in gold are known as Nison and became Important Cultural Properties of Japan. Best Ryokans in Kyoto Experience the Ultimate Japanese Hospitality at a Kyoto Ryokan.
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At the temple grounds, you will find many graves of emperors and court nobles, which tells you the high prestige of Nisonin. Only a few temples were allowed to hold Buddhist ceremonies for the Imperial court and Nisonin was one of them. Other highlights are Chokushi-mon (imperial envoy gate), the Mausoleum of Priest Tanku, a belfry, the Hachisha-no-miya Shrine, the Misono-tei Tea Room and much more.

  • Nisonin Temple:
  • Opening Hours - 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Closed - never, open everyday
  • Admission Fee - 500 yen (Adults), free (Elementary school students and younger)

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Nisonin Temple was constructed between 834 and 848 during the Jowa period under the guidance of priest Jikaku-Daishi, (794 - 864), also known as Ennin. Emperor Saga (786 - 842) gave the order for this project. During the Onin War (1467 - 1477) the temple buildings were destroyed by fire but later some of them, like the Chokushi-mon gate and the Main Hall, were rebuilt. Nisonin was in the beginning a place for monks to study all four Buddhist sects, which are Jodo, Shingon, Tendai, and Risshu. With the start of the Meiji period (1868 - 1912), the temple belongs only to the Tendai sect.


Map of Japan

Nisonin Temple is located within the Arashiyama district in Kyoto near Tenryuji Temple, Adashino Nembutsuji, Otagi Nembutsuji Temple, and the famous Sagano Bamboo Forest.
Address: 27 Saganisonin Monzen Chojincho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8425

How to get to Nisonin Temple?

  • 15min from Kyoto Station to JR Saga-Arashiyama Station by JR Sagano Line and
  • 10min walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station to Nisonin Temple

Sightseeing spots


Main Gate - The gate, a designated Cultural Property of Kyoto, dates back to 1613. It was relocated from the Fushimi Castle. Some major renovation work was done in 2014.

Main Hall - The architectural style of the building is called Hojo. The hall was destroyed during the Onin War and rebuilt in 1521. A major renovation was done in 2016. Inside you will find the two famous statues called Nison.

Momiji-no-baba - This is the long path leading up to the main hall. What makes it so spectacular are the maple and cherry trees planted on the left and right sides of the street, which turn into beautiful colors during the different seasons. Some locals call this street - Maple Road.

Mausoleum of Priest Tanku - This designated Cultural Property of Kyoto was built during the Muromachi era. Priest Tanku was a teacher and mentor to Honen (1133 - 1212), founder of the Jodo Sect. After Honen died in 1212 he was also buried at the cemetery of Nisonin Temple in 1227.

Misono-tei Tea Room - You can access this room in the main hall only in spring and autumn. The view from here over the garden is just amazing.

Belfry - The whole structure was built from 1596 to 1615. The bell dates back to 1604 and was recast in 1992 to celebrate the 1200 anniversary of the founding of Nisonin.

Hachisha-no-miya Shrine - The shrine is a designated Cultural Property of Kyoto. It was constructed during the Muromachi era (1336 - 1573) to protect the temple from bad influences. The word Hachisha stands for eight shrines. It is for the worship of eight deities enshrined at eight major shrines all over the country.

Chokushi-mon - The gate could only be used by the imperial envoys (chokushi).

Benten-do - This little temple is dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten (Goddess of Wisdom, Wealth and Longevity). She became one of the Seven Lucky Gods or Gods of Fortune (Shichifukujin) in Japanese folklore. The nine dragon-headed statue of Benzaiten is an impressive sight.

Festival & Events in Kyoto (dates can change without notice)


Miyako Odori (1st - 31th)
The traditional annual spring dance of the Kyoto district Gion Kobu performed by Geiko and Maiko is a must-see on your Kyoto visit. Don't miss the most popular dances the Miyako Odori "Cherry Blossom Dances" or "Dances of the Old Capital" at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater (located close to Gion Corner).


Aoi Matsuri (15th)
The highlight of this festival is a large parade from the Imperial Palace through the Shimogamo Shrine to the Kamo Shrines. More than 500 people wearing aristocratic costumes from the Heian Period (794 - 1185). The Aoi Matsuri belongs with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri as the three most famous festivals in Kyoto.


Gion Matsuri (whole month)
The month of July is full of different events like the Yoiyama - Kyoto's Magical Night (locals in kimonos look at the giant Gion floats the day before the parade) or the famous Yamaboko Junko (float procession on the 17th of July).


Jidai Matsuri ("Festival of Ages") (22nd)
People celebrate with a large parade between Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. App. 2000 participants wearing historical costumes from different time periods. Enjoy this great festival which lasts around 2 hours. Illumination event at Kodai-ji (end of October - beginning of December)


Karuta Hajime Ceremony at Nisonin Temple (3rd)
It is an annual festival, which re-creates a Heian period (794 - 1185) card game (karuta). Women wear traditional Heian-era clothing and play this historical card game.

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