The main temple of this mountain enclave founded in 874 is set in the foothills, and many smaller temples stand on the ridges above. Its five-story pagoda, which dates from 951, is reputed to be the oldest existing structure in Kyoto. By the late 16th century the temple had begun to decline in importance and showed signs of neglect. Then Hideyoshi Toyotomi paid a visit one April, when the temple's famous cherry trees were in bloom. Hideyoshi ordered the temple restored.
The Sanbo-in, with its Momoyama-period thatched roof, has bold colorful paintings of Chinese village scenes; the paintings, which incorporate gold leaf, were done by the Kano School. The intriguing garden combines elements of the chisen-kaiyu (stroll garden with a pond) and the karesansui, or dry garden. From the temple you can continue up the mountain (about an hour's hike) to several subtemples. The temple holds the Daigo-ichi, a monthly bazaar on the 29th with food and clothing stalls that line the temple walkways. To reach Daigo-ji, in the southeast suburb of Yamashina, take the Tozai subway line to Daigo Station; follow the signs for a 10-minute walk to the nearby hills.