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Kyoto: Toji (Temple)

Located in 1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto City in Kyoto Prefecture, To-ji or Toji (Temple) (東寺) is one of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites of Kyoto City. 

Toji (Temple) was founded in 796, two years after the  capital was moved from Nara to Heian-kyo (old name of Kyoto). The temple was one of the two guardian temples that was built on the main entrances of the Imperial Capital. To-ji, which  means "East Temple" , was the guardian temple of the East while its  sister temple Sai-ji , which means "West Temple" was the guardian temple of the West. These temple stood alongside the Rashomon which is the gate to the Heian capital. Sadly, Sai-ji burnt down in 990, rebuilt, and was ravaged by fire again in 1233. It was never rebuilt after. 
The Kondo as seen from the Nandaimon (gate)

I got to visit To-ji during the Kobi-ichi (flea market)

Check out the items you might want to bring home.
Toji was formerly known as Kyo-o-gokaku-ji or The Temple for the Defense of the Nation by Means of the King of Doctrines. It means that the temple provided protection for the nation. 

Toji's famous 5 storey pagoda

In 823, Emperor Saga honored the monk Kukai and gave the temple to him. He made Toji the central seminary of Shingon Buddhism and added various buildings such as the pagoda and halls. Most of these infrastructures can still be seen today and as a matter of fact, they are now declared National Treasures and Importatn Cultural Properties. 

Speaking of which, here are some of the National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties found in Toji (Temple) complex:
Kondo

Kondo (Main Hall)
- This is the largest structure in Toji. It was originally built in the 8th century but burnt down in 1486. It was reconstructed in 1603. The Kondo houses the Yakushi Nyorai (statue). It is known as the Buddha of Medicine who heals with mercy the sickness of the body and soul of the people. It is flanked by the Nikko Bosatsu on the right-hand side which is the Bodhisattva of the Sun and the Gakko Bosatsu on the left-hand side which is the Bodhisattva of the moon.  

Kodo

Kodo (Lecture Hall) - This structure stands in the very center  of the precincts of Toji. It was built in 835 according to records but was heavily damaged by several calamities like typhoons and earthquakes and was repaired and reconstructed several times. The present building was built in 1491 but still retains its original style of architecture. Inside the Kodo, the Buddhist statues are arranged according to a mandala that is central to Shingon Buddhism. The principal Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai stands in the center of the 21 other statues housed inside the Kodo. 
The pagoda as seen from Hyotan Pond
Toji's Five- Storey Pagoda

Five-Storey Pagoda - This structure is probably the most famous of the buildings of Toji. It is also the highest pagoda in Japan, standing 187 feet. It used to house the relics of the historical Buddha. At present, the pagoda houses four Buddha statues that are located inside on its ground level. Each facing a different direction. Visitors can't enter the pagoda except for special openings but can still view the statues from the designated viewing areas. The pagoda was built in the 9th century. Sadly, it has been struck by lightning and burnt a total of four times in its history was fervently rebuilt by its followers. The present pagoda was built in 1644. 

Other things to see in the Toji (temple) vicinity:


Nandaimon (gate)

Hyotan Pond

Toji's famed sakura tree

The Hozo
Jikodo hall
Toji goshuin


My family and I got to visit Toji (Temple) during our second day in Kyoto. It was the second UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kyoto that we have visited during our 5-day tour of the city. During our visit, we were shocked to see a huge crowd of people on the temple grounds. Later on, we found out that there is a flea market called "Kobo-ichi" every 21st of the month. Despite the number of visitors that day, I still managed to get my goshuin and we also got to tour the Hyotan Pond and view the famous five-storey pagoda. To visit the pond and pagoda, one has to pay 500 yen.  Although I feel that it's quite pricey for an entrance fee, I still feel that my experience there was worth the 500 yen as I'm I have this passion for historical and cultural things. 
We surely did enjoy our trip to To-ji (Temple)

Overall, Toji (Temple) is a place worth visiting. It would surely transport you back hundreds of years ago in the time of samurais and shoguns. Oh, and please don't forget to buys souvenirs on your way back. 

Getting there:


You can reach Toji (Temple) by foot from these stations:


  • JR Kyoto Station, Hachijo Exit (15 minutes walk)
  • Kintetsu Line Toji Station (10 minutes walk)

The temple is also a few minutes walk away from the following bus stops:
  • Toji Nishimon-mae
  • Kujo Omiya
  • Minamimon-mae
  • Toji Higashimon-mae
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Comments

  1. Love the pictires! Great composition!

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  2. One of the reasons why I want to visit Japan is because of their amazing pagodas. That place looks beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. It really is. =) However, you have to pay an entrance fee to get close to it.

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  3. Very educational review and I love your pictures it shows how authentic it is !

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  4. How beautiful is this place! I loved the serenity and colors!

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    Replies
    1. I agree to that Poorna. It's more beautiful during Spring.

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  5. This looks like a great trip! Those grounds and buildings are stunning! Do you think it is better to go during the flea market or at a different time?

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    1. I would love to see the temple when there are no flea markets around. It's quite noisy with the market there.

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  6. What a beautiful place. I would love to visit there one day.

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  7. Japan is on our bucket list and we hope to visit next year. Your pictures are gorgeous and I am now excited!

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  8. The Toji Temple looks amazing. I would love to visit it, it has so many history inside it. I love such historical places. Thanks for sharing.!!!

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  9. Wow! Captivating photos. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. I hope I can visit one of these days.

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  10. I'm sure that i can find some treasures in a flea market......we love collecting things from there.....

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    Replies
    1. You sure will! There are a lot of things to buy from the flea market which if I had an extra budget, I'd surely buy.

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  11. I really like the way you present your travels to the world. ^_^ I have already bookmarked your page long before because I am a great fan of your narratives. Keep it up! And just like what I have said, I am keeping your Japan narratives, perhaps I might visit the country next month. Thanks for always posting a very detailed post (as always)!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for that Sheena. =) Your comment made my day.

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  12. Looks like a great trip. Seeing such an old temple would be amazing.

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  13. This is very informational and the pictures are beautiful. Looks like an amazing place to be

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  14. History always excites us !

    These pictures are lovely

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  15. Looks like an interesting temple. I would love to visit someday.

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    Replies
    1. It is. I'm excited to see your article about this place someday.

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  16. The temple looks amazing...I love how Japanese architecture is so different and interesting with practical implications.

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    1. I agree the architecture of the temple is really amazing.

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  17. Yesterday only I was teaching my student about pagodas. This will be great read for them as well.

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  18. Very informative, and its great that you visited this temple. Where is your next destination?

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    Replies
    1. Still in Kyoto. =) Planning to check out the other UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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  19. I would love to go back to Japan probably next year! :) I would move there in a heartbeat.

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    Replies
    1. Me too. I'm praying that I get the chance to revisit it someday.

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