Kyoto Sights

To-ji (East Temple)

  • 1 Kujo-cho Map It
  • Kyoto
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Published 12/10/2015

Fodor's Review

Famous for its towering pagoda, the most prominent one visible when entering the city, the temple of To-ji was established by imperial edict in 796 and called the East Temple. Farther west was Sai-ji, the West Temple, but receiving no special patronage it was long ago destroyed. To-ji, on the other hand, was assigned to the priest Kukai (774–835), also known as Kobo Daishi, a major figure in Japanese Buddhism whose accomplishments include founding the Shingon sect in the early 9th century and establishing the 88-temple pilgrimage on the island of Shikoku.

Fires and battles during the 16th century destroyed the temple buildings, but many were rebuilt, including in 1603 the Kon-do (Main Hall), which blends Chinese and Japanese elements. The one building that has managed to survive the ravages of war since it was built in 1491 is the Ko-do (Lecture Hall). Inside this hall are 15 original statues of Buddhist gods, forming a mandala, that are considered masterpieces of the Heian

era (750–1150). There's a daily morning service at 6 am in the Daishi-do with devotional chanting.

On the 21st of each month, a market known locally as Kobo-san after Kobo Daishi is held. Used and old kimonos, fans, furniture, potted plants, oriental medicine, kitchen utensils, and many other items can be found at bargain prices. A little patience and a pencil and paper to write down your desired price will make the venture an enjoyable one. A smaller antiques market is held on the first Sunday of the month.

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Sight Information


1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto, 601-8473, Japan

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Sight Details:

  • ¥500 main buildings, other parts free
  • Mar. 20–Sept. 19, daily 8:30–5:30; Sept. 20–Mar. 19, daily 8:30–4:30

Published 12/10/2015


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