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Daitoku-ji Temple

Zen Life: Temples, rock gardens, and bamboo forests all in one.

If your image of Japan is peaceful temples and tranquil natural scenery, Daitoku-ji will bring it all to life.

This enormous Buddhist temple complex, tucked away in the northwestern area of Kyoto, is home to more than 20 sub temples. Each one has its own private zen garden or small bamboo forest. Daitoku-ji isn’t as well known as some of the other temples and shrines in Kyoto. Due to this, along with the sheer size of the grounds, you are sure to find a spot in solitude to experience the real zen of Japan.

Depending on the season, you can enjoy special openings of some of the temples, while others are open all year round. The temple is especially scenic in autumn for fall foliage, peaking in mid-November.

Three of the most popular temples that are open year-round are: Koto-in Daisen-in and Ryogen-in.

Koto-in Temple

Koto-in Temple in November.

Walk through the moss covered bamboo forest and explore this 17th-century house. Make sure to ask the attendant for some fresh brewed green tea and sweets for ¥400. Then, find a moment of relaxation, sipping tea and listening to the bamboo stalks clack against each other in the wind.

Daisen-in Temple

Put away your camera in this temple and force yourself to experience the beauty before you without a lens. Check out the celebrated rock gardens that wrap around a traditional Buddhist style altar. Join a zazen (sitting) meditation class and learn how to meditate from a Zen Buddhist.

Ryogen-in Temple

Find a peaceful place to experience the smallest dry landscape garden in Japan. Admire the precision of the raked rocks, a symbol of water surrounding the temple grounds. Wander around a variety of other gardens and discover the symbolic meaning of each moss covered rock and deliberately placed tree.

While this temple complex can take hours to fully discover, keep in mind that a lot of the sub-temples charge a separate entrance fee.

Things To Know


9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:30 from December to February)


Several sub temples have entrance charge of around ¥400.

How To Get There


Japan, 〒603-8231 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Kita-ku, Murasakino Daitokujichō, 53, 臨済宗大徳寺派宗務本所

By train

Take the Karasuma Subway line to Kitaoji Station and walk about 15 minutes west. Kitaoji station is about 30 minutes by train from Kyoto station.


By bus

From the Kitaoji bus terminal (outside Kitaoji station), take the 101, 205, or 206 bus to “Daitoku-ji Mae.”

Where To Stay

Ori Stay & Living
  • 67-21 Higashiwakamiyacho, Kyoto-shi Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-0086 Japan
  • ¥27,000 - ¥60,478
  • 0.8 km
Roku Kyoto LXR Hotels & Resorts
  • 44-1 Kinugasa Kagamiishicho, Kyoto-shi Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8451 Japan
  • ¥130,433 - ¥906,322
  • 1.1 km
Hostel Sui Kyoto
  • 732 Makuracho, Kyoto-shi Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8488 Japan
  • ¥4,540 - ¥19,800
  • 4.33/5 (20 reviews)
  • 1.1 km
Guest House Sakura Komachi
  • 10-2 Kinugasa Gaidocho, Kyoto-shi Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8372 Japan
  • ¥4,500 - ¥13,500
  • 4.67/5 (57 reviews)
  • 1.3 km
Guesthouse Hana Nishijin
  • 572-1 Nishiyanagicho, Kyoto-shi Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8394 Japan
  • ¥8,500 - ¥22,000
  • 5/5 (12 reviews)
  • 1.6 km