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There are over 1600 temples in Kyoto – but there are just a handful I find myself going back to again and again. Here are the 10 Kyoto temples that never cease to impress me.
Chris Rowthorn’s 10 Favorite Kyoto Temples
Honen-in Temple: Takashi Images / Shutterstock.com
Honen-in is my favorite temple in all of Kyoto. Starting with an incredibly scenic approach that culminates in a moss-covered gate, Honen-in works its magic on the visitor right from the start.
Zen garden of Tofuku-ji Temple
One of the most attractive temples in Kyoto, Tofuku-ji Temple also has the advantage of not being very crowded unless you come during the fall foliage season.
Kurama-dera Mountain Temple is easily the best day- or half-day trip out of Kyoto. High on the shoulder of Mt. Kurama, you can feel the power of nature up here.
Stunning at any time of year, in the New Year’s snow, with fires burning and lanterns lit, Shinyo-do temple looks like something out of Narnia.
One of the best temples in the Northern Higashiyama district, Nanzen-ji Temple is a sprawling Zen paradise surrounded by lush green hills.
Sanzen-in Temple and the surrounding village of Ohara make a great daytrip out of Kyoto. The temple contains a superb image of Amida Buddha and has some magical gardens.
Tiny, often overlooked, Gio-ji Temple is one of the most scenic spots in Arashiyama. The thatched-roof main hall overlooking a moss-covered grotto is a magical sight.
One of my all-time favorite temples in Kyoto, Shoren-in is bypassed by almost all tourists and bus groups.
Tenryu-ji Temple is the headline attraction in Arashiyama, a sprawling Zen temple with one of the finest gardens in Kyoto and wonderful mountain views.
Chion-in Sanmon temple: Aberu.Go / Shutterstock.com
Sometimes called the Vatican of Pure Land Buddhism, this vast temple is one of the most and popular temples in the city. It’s highly recommended.