Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Kyoto : Daigo-ji Temple

Over the last few years we have travelled to many places in Japan. If I have to choose one place as my favorite, it is undoubtedly Kyoto. An ancient capital, Kyoto is the perfect example of the coexistence of history, culture and modern life. Our first visit to Kyoto was in 2010 and I immediately took a liking to this beautiful city. In the last couple of years, we have visited Kyoto many more times but I always look forward to that next visit. A trip to Kyoto is rewarding in any season. And if the season is colorful like Autumn or Spring, that's like icing on cake !

Kyoto has so many temples and shrines that it is virtually impossible to visit all of them even over a few weeks. While we have been to the 'Must visit' temples and shrines many times, this time we decided to visit few places which we had skipped until now. One such temple is the Daigo-ji temple in southern part of Kyoto. The temple is designated as a World Heritage site under ' Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto'. 
Daigo-ji temple is the headquarters of the Daigo branch of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. It was built by a Buddhist monk Shobo Rigen Daishi in 874. 

Daigo-ji is spread out over a large area spreading from Mt Daigo to its foothills. Kami-Daigo (Upper Daigo) is at the top of the mountain and has to be accessed by a long hike. Shimo- Daigo (Lower Daigo) and Samboin are at the base of the mountain. Separate admission tickets are required to enter each of the three parts- Samboin, Shimo Daigo and Kami Daigo. A combined ticket can also be purchased. 

Samboin comprises of many walled complexes connected by streets , and also feature a temple, a tea garden and a museum among other buildings. It is popular among visitors especially during Cherry Blossom season. 

Shimo Daigo is a large enclosed area consisting of many buildings and open spaces. One such building is the five story wooden Pagoda built in 951 making it the oldest building in Kyoto. The pagoda is about 38 meters tall. 

Kondo, the central hall was originally built in 926 but it suffered damage from two major fires. 

The current structure is said to date back to 1600.
The Kondo houses a seated statue of Yakushinyorai, the Healing Buddha.

In Fudo-do Hall, statues of Myo-o and Fudo Myo-o are enshrined. A Goma Dojo ( Fire ritual place) can be seen right outside the Fudo-do. 

The Benten do Hall is dedicated to Benzaiten, the Buddhist name for the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. 

The Benten do, a vermilion lacquered building and the vermilion lacquered bridge across the pond make a pretty sight.

Shimo Daigo attracts many visitors during autumn when the colorful foliage adds to the beauty of the complex.   

Every spring, a Cherry Blossom viewing event, 'Ho-Taiko Hanami Gyoretsu' is held at Daigo-ji temple. It features a parade modelled after the 'Daigo no Hanami' , Cherry Blossom viewing party held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Momoyama period. 

Address: 22 Higashioji-cho, Daigo, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 601-1325

Phone: 075-571-0002

Timings: 9:00-17:00 hrs ( closes 16:00 hrs from early December- end February)

Admission: One Complex - Adults 600 yen; Jr High-High School- 300 yen
                  Two Complexes- Adults 1000 yen; Jr High and High School- 500 yen
                  All complexes- Adults 1500 yen; Jr High and High School- 750 yen;
                  Children attending Primary school and younger enter free. 
Closing days: None

Paid Parking available for 700 yen Standard sized cars.

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