Toji Temple is one of the original three Buddhist temples that were allowed to be built in Kyoto at the beginning of the Heian period (when Kyoto replaced Nara as capital city). In 796, Toji Temple was founded along with Sai-ji and Shingon-in temples. Toji is, unfortunately, the only one that remains standing to this day. The historic 5-storied pagoda building holds several significant artefacts and treasures, leading Toji to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Toji temple’s name means ‘East Temple’, named after its location on the east of the city entrance. Its sister building, Saiji or ‘West Temple’ used to stand at the west of the city entrance, but was unfortunately not reconstructed after burning down in the 1200s.
The famed Buddhist temple’s 5-storied pagoda also serves as a city landmark, its sheer height standing tall amongst the low traditional houses. On the 21st of every month, the Kobo-san flea market is held at Toji Temple transforming the temple grounds into a street full of vendors and handmade crafts shops.
Kondo Hall is the main hall — Toji Temple’s largest building. Built in the 8th century, the original building burned down in 1486 and was rebuilt in 1603. Inside the main hall are three golden Buddha statues that represent the cosmology of Buddhism.
The icon of Toji Temple, the original five-storied pagoda was built in the 9th century. The pagoda that you see today was rebuilt in 1644, after a series of unfortunate lightning strikes burned down the original building. Despite its tall stature, the pagoda is held firmly using only stone foundations. Its unique building blocks have allowed it to withstand earthquakes, leaving it still standing till today.
A large sakura or cherry blossom tree stands outside the ticket office at the entrance of Toji Temple. During spring, the area around the temple and sakura tree are spectacularly lit up at night. The night illuminations under the pink cherry blossoms add to the beautiful view of the temple grounds.
10-minute walk from To-ji Station on the Kintetsu Railway
City Bus Stop To-ji-higashimon-mae
15-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station Hachijo-guchi exit
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