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Temple & Buddhism

Things you should know in order to enjoy Kyoto's art museums


The Kodai-ji Temple was built by Kita no Mandokoro (Nene), the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi - a military commander who unified Japan for the first time - to mourn for her deceased husband. The Kodaiji-sho-Museum has a collection of the temple's treasures which it periodically exhibits to the general public. Everyday items such as furniture and tableware favored by Hideyoshi and Kita no Mandokoro are on display in the exhibition room as well as portraits, documents written by the hand of historically prominent figures, armor, and other items. These exhibits are changed around every season. The museum is particularly well-known for its abundance of gold lacquer works; much loved by many members of Western royalty and nobility. Because it adjoins the temple, many people visit the museum combined with a visit to the temple.

The Collections
The museum's "Kodai-ji makie (lacquerware)", which bears the name of the temple, is well-known. This is said to be the most splendid masterpiece of "Makie" in Japan, and it was extremely well-loved by Toyotomi Hideyoshi who ascended the ranks to become the leading powerful authority in Japan. The technique to make this lacquerware consists of making a rough sketch with lacquer, and then sprinkling on gold and silver powder to draw a picture. The contrast of the gold with the black cloth is magnificent. This splendid and elegant depiction is said to reflect the tastes of military commanders at that time. Other exhibits include portraits of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his wife, Nene; everyday items they used during their lifetime; and a wealth of materials concerning related parties. This Museum is often visited by people with a love of arts as well as an interest in Japanese history.
The Kodai-ji Temple is opposite and the Entoku-in Temple, where Nene spent the rest of her days, is next door. A visit to both is highly recommended. Both of the Temples' buildings and gardens which date back over 400 years remain, and the gardens in particular are spectacular. The gardens are lit up during the spring cherry blossom and the fall foliage seasons, attracting lots of tourists. At the top of the hill is the Ryozen Gokoku-jinja Shrine which deifies people who participated in Japan's modern revolution, the Meiji Restoration, from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period (around the end of 19th century).
Language Japanese (Website)
Museum Shop No
Cafes & Restaurants No
Address 2F of Kyo Rakuichi‘Nene', 530 Kodaiji Shimogawara-cho Higashiyama-ku Kyoto 605-0825 JAPAN
Contact 075-561-1414
Opening Hours

Daily:9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

* Special Night:9:30 a.m.-22:00 p.m.
(Spring:mid-March to early May/Summer:August 1st to 18th/Autumn:late October to early December)

Closed Closed due to the replacement of exhibits
Admission Fees

The Collections Hall
Adult:300yen(Sho Museum only)
Discount for 2 places (Kodai-ji temple, Kodai-ji sho museum):600yen
Discount for 3 places (Kodai-ji temple, Kodai-ji sho museum and Entokuin temple):900yen


Kyoto City Bus:Get off at "Higashiyama Yasui" bus stop #206(From Kyoto Station) (5 minutes' walk to the east)

Kyoto City Bus:Get off at "Higashiyama Yasui" bus stop #207(From Hankyu Kawaramachi Station/Keihan Gion-Shijo Station) (5 minutes' walk to the east)

Website http://www.kodaiji.com/index.html
(Kodaiji-temple's Website)

Shoukokuji Jotenkaku Museum

The Shoukokuji Jotenkaku Museum is an art museum located in the grounds of the Shokoku-ji Temple - one of the most famous temples in Kyoto and Japan.
The museum has a diverse collection of precious works passed down by the temple over generations. Many of these works have been designated as national treasures and important cultural properties, and all are famous Japanese artworks. The collection is characterized by its large number of tea ceremony-related works owing to the Temple's close association with Sen no Rikyu: a forefather of the Japanese "Way of Tea". Due to the Temple's affiliation with the Kinkaku-ji Temple and Ginkaku-ji Temple, collections from those temples can also be seen here. Large planned exhibitions based on certain themes are held several times a year, and the "budo shokin-zu" (figure of grapes and bird) and "getsuya basho-zu (figure of Basho in the moonlight) Kinkaku-ji Temple Daishoin (office) fusuma (sliding screen) paintings by Ito Jakuchu (Important Cultural Property) are constantly on display.

The Collections
There is an art museum attached to the famous and historical, Shokoku-ji Temple, and as befitting its famous name, the museum has a vast collection of precious works of art. In addition to paintings, the collection has a varied array of calligraphy, Buddhist artworks, crafts, and tea-ceremony utensils. Many of Japan's most famous artists have a strong connection to Shokoku-ji Temple, such as Hasegawa Tohaku, Kano Tanyu, Maruyama Okyo, and Ito Jakuchu. The museum's collection thus includes works by these artists.
There is a corner in the exhibition room which recreates the inside of the "Daishoin" in the grounds of the Kinkaku-ji Temple. Here, visitors can virtually experience the atmosphere inside the Temple hundreds of years ago.
Shokoku-ji Temple is one of the most famous temples in Japan and is located above Kinkaku-ji Temple and Ginkaku-ji Temple. Other buildings within the temple's grounds are also worth a visit. In the summer, the pond is abloom with lotus flowers, providing a feast for the eyes.
The Doshisha University is nearby, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace, where the Japanese Emperor and the house of the Imperial prince once resided, is located opposite. The Reizei family, which is the present house of the oldest court noble, is also nearby. (Tours are only possible in the spring and fall)
Language Japanese(Website)
Museum Shop Yes
Cafes & Restaurants No
Address 701 Shokokuji Monzen-cho, Imadegawa-dori Karasuma-higashi-iru Kamigyo-ku Kyoto 602-0898 JAPAN
Contact 075-241-0423
Opening Hours Daily:10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (Entrance until 4:30 p.m.)
Closed New year's Holiday
Closed due to the replacement of exhibits
Admission Fees

Special Exhibition
Varies depending on the exhibitions

The Collections Hall
Students(University),Aged 65 and over:600yen
Students (High school/Junior high school):300yen
Students (Elementary school):200yen

* Discount available for a group over 20+.


Kyoto City Subway:Get off at "Imadegawa" station (10 minutes' walk from there)

Kyoto City Bus:Get off at "Doshisha-mae" bus stop #59,201,203,102 (10 minutes' walk from there)

Website http://www.shokoku-ji.jp/j-nyukan.html
* Foreign language'pages:Dead link now.

Ryukoku Museum

This is a comprehensive Buddhism-devoted museum located opposite one of Kyoto's most famous temples, the Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple, which is designated as a World Heritage Site. The museum provides an easy-to-understand introduction to Buddhism from the time it started in India and spread to east Asia and eventually, Japan. Its exhibits consist of precious cultural properties and materials.
The most eye-catching exhibit is the restored and exhibited corridor mural of the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China. This corridor mural was built around the 11th century and is said to be the finest example of Uighur Buddhist art. The Buddhist wall painting in the full‐scale corridor was digitally restored over a year and a half. The painting emerges brilliantly with faint light and stepping into the corridor will make you feel like you have entered the actual Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves. Ultra high quality moving image materials are screened in the museum theater.

The Collections
The museum is run by Ryukoku University, which is attached to Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple. The collection therefore has a large number of precious Buddhist materials assembled over the course of the University's research study. Its Buddhist statutes were produced in China and India as well as Japan, and it is very interesting to compare the surface differences. In addition to that, the museum sometimes exhibits national treasure artworks owned by Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple.
Being opposite Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple, visitors can combine a visit to the museum with a visit to the temple. There is also a cafe space inside conveniently allowing visitors to take a break. In the surrounding area a temple town has developed. The area has a different feel to other towns with its shops that handle instruments used by temples and Buddhism-specific miscellaneous goods.
Language English, Chinise, and Japanese (Website)
Museum Shop Yes
Cafes & Restaurants Yes(Cafe)
Address 117 Nishinakasujidori Shomen Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku Kyoto 600-8399 JAPAN
Contact 075-351-2500
Opening Hours Daily:10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (Entrance until 16:30 p.m.)
Closed Monday(or, if Monday is a national holiday, the following Tuesday)
Closed due to the replacement of exhibits
Admission Fees

Seniors(65 years old and older):400yen
Sudents(High school):300yen
Students (Junior high school/Elementary school) and younger:Free

* Discount available for a group over 20+.


Kyoto City Bus:Get off at
"NishiHonganji-mae" bus stop #9,28,75 (2 minutes' walk from there)
"Shimabara-guchi" bus stop #18,71,206,207(8 minute's walk from there)
"Shichijo-horikawa" bus stop #206,208 (3 minute's walk from there)

Train/JR, and Kintetsu Line : Get off at "Kyoto"Station(12 minute's walk from there)

Kyoto City Subway:On the Karasuma-Line, Get off at "Gojo" station (10 minute's walk from there)

Website http://museum.ryukoku.ac.jp/en/index.html

Things you should know in order to enjoy Kyoto's art museums

Museum List