Tofukuji Temple – Kyoto | Travel Information

View of the Tsutenkyo Bridge in early Autumn.

Tofukuji Temple, Located in Eastern Kyoto city, is a peaceful temple which was founded in 1236. It is among the cities oldest and most popular destinations to visit in Kyoto.

Although it’s most popular season is in Autumn due to the vibrant colours of the fall foliage and the historic atmosphere, the temple still offers year-round beauty, so even if you can’t make it in Autumn, the temple should not disappoint. 

The temple was founded by a one Kujo Michiie, whom desired to create a temple to compete/rival with some of the great temples of Nara; Todaiji and Kofukuji. The name ‘Tofukuji’ is derived from an amalgamation of the names from both the aforementioned temples. If you visit the Todai-ji temple in Nara city, you can see a striking resemblance between the Sanmon Gate at Tofuku-ji, and the main hall of the Todai-ji, which have very similar aesthetics. 

Despite the temple being founded in the the 1230’s, the temple buildings itself date back to the 15th century, due to a fire which destroyed most of the temples grounds. However, the temple was rebuilt with the original plans.

The Sanmon gate – standing at 22m tall, mentioned earlier in this destination page, suffered a string of bad luck in the late early 1300’s where it caught fire 3 times between 1319-1336. The current Sanmon Gate was rebuilt in 1425, and has become a National Treasure of Japan, which saw it having a multi-million dollar refurbishment which took place from 1969-1978. 

 

Around the grounds, nearby the actual temple building itself, you can find a building called ‘Hojo’. Hojo has gained the reputation of being a one of a kind garden landscape. The gardens were built in 1939 by Mirei Shigemori, whose landscape design at Hojo was a seamless transition of zen beliefs, and modernization, inspired by the modernization the country was experiencing at the time of design. To see these gardens, there will be a fee of 400JPY, taken at the Hojo building.

Other areas of the temple include the Kaisando hall, and the Tsutenkyo Bridge, of which will cost 400JPY to visit. To honor the first head priest of Tofuku-ji, the Kaisando hall is dedicated as the resting grounds (Mausoleum) for the priest, with a beautiful garden background to give the ‘at peace’ feeling. 

A section of the Hojo Gardens

Hours and Admission

  • Hours: 9:00am-4:30pm (April through October)
  • 8:30am-4:30pm (Novemeber to Early December)
  • 9:00am-4pm (Winter)
  • 400JPY (Hojo building/gardens, Tsutenkyo Bridge/Kaisando Hall)

Access

Tofuku-ji Temple can easily be accessed Via the Nara line, which leaves Kyoto station. This line also stops out front the famous Kyoto Fushimi-inari Shrine. Note, that if you look on the map, Tobakaido Station appears to be closer to the temple grounds, please know that the trains on the Nara Line slightly bypass this station, and do not stop there, so you will have to get off at Tofukuji station, and walk from there to the temple.

Where To Stay

Daiya Ryokan

The Daiya Ryokan is a great place for anyone travelling on a budget, as it’s located near central Kyoto and has easy access to the cities landmarks. Facilities are shared, but each person has a private room.

Smile Hotel Kyoto Shijo

Smile Hotel Kyoto Shijo is a popular, mid-range hotel to stay at in the heart of Kyoto, recommended for 2 travellers. Each room has it’s own private facilities which include free toiletries. 

Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto

The Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto is among one of the classiest hotels in Kyoto, and is rated as a 5-star hotel. Everything from the service, to the buffet breakfast is exceptional at this hotel.

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