Surrounded by thick stone walls, this complex holds some great treasures within its 47 temples. The biggest tourist draw is in the lecture hall of the main temple, with its stunning painting of a dragon stretching across the expansive ceiling. In rendering the lifelike creature, the painter made clever use of a perspective to make it seem like the dragon's eyes glare at you wherever you walk. Japan's oldest bell is also at daily use in Myoshin-ji, tolling out the hour
for meditation since 698. Shunko-in, one of the 47, keeps a Hidden Christian bell; made in Portugal, the bell was placed in Nanban-ji Church, the first Christian church in Kyoto in 1576 and the center of Catholic missionary activity until the religious persecution brought about its destruction. Buses 61, 62, and 63 stop at Myoshin-ji-mae; otherwise take a JR Sagano Line train to Hanazono-cho.