Myoshinji (妙心寺, Myōshinji) is a large temple complex in northwestern Kyoto. That includes about 50 sub-temples in addition to its main buildings. While a few temple halls can be entered, most sub-temples are closed to the public. However, visitors are free to wander along the walking paths. In several ways, the temple complex resembles Daitokuji Temple.
Within the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, Myoshinji is the head temple of the Myoshinji school with over 3000 affiliated temples and calls itself the largest of all Zen temples. Myoshinji was founded in 1337 when an abdicated emperor had an imperial villa converted into a Zen temple.
Myoshinji’s major structures are near the temple’s southern entrance, near Hanazono Station. The Sanmon Gate, Butsuden Hall, Hatto Hall, and Ohojo buildings are all in a row one after the other. The Sanmon Gate and Butsuden Hall are significant cultural treasures, although they can only be seen from the outside.
The Hatto Hall – has a large artwork of a dragon on its ceiling. That changes depending on the angle from which it is viewed. One of Japan’s oldest temple bells, originating from the 7th century, is also on exhibit.
Three of Myoshinji’s many sub-temples are available to the public all year, while a few are open occasionally. Some shuttered temples open their front gates so visitors can view their inner gardens. A pleasant method to appreciate the temple ambiance is to walk along the various trails that link the structures. Although it is now separated from the rest of the temple grounds, Ryoanji is also one of Myoshinji’s sub-temples.
The other two sub-temples frequently available to the public are smaller and less well-known than Taizoin. But they provide visitors with a peaceful and pleasant ambiance. Visitors may wander through numerous gardens at Keishunin Temple. And a lovely tea parlor provides a pleasant area to take in the view.
Daishinin Temple is the smallest of the four sub-temples. Yet it features a lovely rock garden, a peony garden, and some basic temple chambers.
Getting there and around:
Myoshinji’s temple grounds are a five-minute walk from JR Hanazono Station (10 minutes, 200 yen from Kyoto Station). Or a three-minute walk along the Keifuku Kitano Line from Myoshinji Station. Ryoanji Temple is around a 10-15 minute walk from Myoshinji.
You can book a room for accommodations at The Hanazono Kaikan, Myōshin-ji’s official temple lodging. This modern-style hotel features rooms equipped with cable television and an ensuite bathroom with complimentary amenities. There’s also a large restaurant that serves delicious Japanese dishes and a shop that sells Kyoto and Buddhist souvenirs.
Address: 1 Hanazonomyoshinjicho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8035, Japan