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Daikaku-ji Temple 大覚寺

Shinkei-den Hall, Daikaku-ji Temple, Kyoto (photo bu Mytho88 - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
Pagoda viewed from Lake Ozawa, Daikaku-ji Temple, Kyoto (photo bu Zenzai-Doji - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

Daikaku-ji is a Shingon temple dating from the Heian period. It is famous for moon-viewing boat cruises on Lake Ōsawa. Shakyō (sutra transcription) lessons are held daily at the temple.


Daikaku-ji was founded in 876 by Empress Masako (810-879) on the site of the Saga-rikyū, a country villa built for her father, Emperor Saga (786-842). The temple kept a close relation with the Imperial family, and was actually a monzeki (門跡), i.e. a temple whose appointed abbot was an Imperial prince.

In the early 14th century, retired Emperor Go-Uda (1267-1324) conducted his cloistered rule from Daikaku-ji. A school of ikebana named after the emepror, the Saga Goryū, is still based in the temple.

The Shin-den Hall (宸殿) was transported from its original location in the Imperial Palace in the 16th century. It contains some valuable fusuma screens attributed to the Sengoku-period Kanō school, the most famous schools of Japanese painting.

Opening Hours & Admission

The temple is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Admission is ¥500.

How to get there

Daikakuji is located in the northern part of the Arashiyama district, approximately 1 km north of JR Saga-Arashiyama Station (17min from Kyoto Station, ¥230). If you coming from the cluster of temples in northern Kyoto (Kinkaku-ji, Ryōan-ji, Ninna-ji) or from the western side of the city centre (e.g. Nijō Castle) the easiest way is to hop on the Keifuku Arashiyama line until Arashiyama Station, from where it is only a short walk north-west to Tenryū-ji. There are Keifuku stations in Ryōan-ji and Shijō-Ōmiya (halfway between Nijō Castle and Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple). The journey takes 22min and costs ¥200 from either station.

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