Daigoji Temple – Discover Rich History and Legends Unimaginable from the Temple’s Current Appearance
March 13, 2019
Daigoji Temple is the largest temple compound I’ve visited in Kyoto, and it wouldn’t have been possible to learn about its history if I didn’t take the English brochure. If you’re unable to get hold of the brochure, here’s a quick summary of the temple and the temple complex.
Daigoji was founded in 874 through the efforts of master Shobo. Following this, the conversions to Buddhism of three successive Emperors Daigo, Suzaku and Murakami, as well as, Empress Onshi laid the foundations for Daigoji’s perpetual preservation.
The temple has been preserved through a succession of virtuous head priests. During the Northern and Southern Dynasties period, head priest Kenshun succeeded in the conversion of Ashikaga Takauji. In the Muromachi period, head priest Mansai Jugo was known and respected as a virtual Prime Minister in the shogunate led by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. In the Momoyama period, following on from his conversion of Hideyoshi to Buddhism, head priest Gien Jugo restored the temple to prosperity with the “Daigo-no-Hanami” (cherry blossom viewing) party.
In the Edo period, high priest Koken entered Mount Omine together with 3,000 ascetic followers in the hope that their Shugendo sect would flourish. However, with the anti-Buddhist movement in the Meiji period, the temple and its grounds were returned to the state, its business foundations were badly shaken and it began a steady decline.
Yet, the dedication to preserve every one of the temple’s multitude of treasures in the midst of this hardship means that today, 75,522 items of National Treasures, 425 items of Important Cultural Assets and a wealth of previous documents from the Middle Ages and earlier are quietly preserved at Daigoji. When Daigoji was newly registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1994, it was recognised as being a treasure trove for handing down the “culture of wood” and “culture of paper”. Henceforth, at Daigoji, even the smallest object is considered a piece of cultural heritage, and is carefully preserved under the slogan “Living Cultural Assets”.
There are 3 areas where you can visit, namely, the Sanboin area, the Temple Complex area, and the Reihokan area. I highly recommend you to visit during the autumn season.
Address: 22 Daigohigashiojicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 601-1325, Japan
Opening Hours: 1 March to first Sunday of December 9am to 5pm. From the day after the first Sunday of December to end of February 9am to 4.30pm.
Admission Fee: Please check the website for more details as the fee changes according to the seasons.