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Kyoto Tourism Guide: Sublime Beauty Portrayed by the Four Seasons at Jojakko-ji Temple

Kyoto Tourism Guide: Sublime Beauty Portrayed by the Four Seasons at Jojakko-ji Temple

Date published: 29 August 2019

Jojakko-ji Temple is located on the side of Mt. Ogura (Ogurayama) in Sagano, Kyoto and is one of the best temples for viewing autumn foliage. It is said that the name Jojakko – meaning “everlasting light of wisdom when nearing nirvana” in Japanese - comes from the light that shining through the trees that overgrow the temple. There you can witness beautiful scenery throughout all seasons.

Autumn Scenery with Slightly Crimson Colored Light Coming Through the Foliage

Once could say that the beauty of Jojakko-ji comes from the numerous trees in the area. There are over 200 Japanese maple trees covering the temple grounds. The layered branches and leaves create a beautiful gradation of red, yellow, orange, and green, as well as an elaborate pattern of shadows on the stone pavement.

▲Colorful fallen leaves on green moss
▲Looking up at the breathtaking view of the autumn leaves

You will first go through the main gate, which was reportedly built during the middle of the Edo period, to enter the temple grounds. The gate has a large sign with “Jojakko-ji” written on it.

After walking along a small path with beautifully hued trees, you will come to the Niomon Gate, which symbolizes Jojakko-ji, and is used in many forms of media.

Looking through Niomon Gate, the view of the stairs leading up through the colored scenery is like a painting.

▲A very picturesque view looking back towards the main gate
▲The Nio Statue at Niomon Gate bears a fierce look. The statue is 210cm tall. It was created by Buddhist statute sculptor Unkei in the Heian period

The stone stairs behind Niomon Gate are surrounded by colorful trees that reflect the sunlight beautifully. The ground on either side are carpeted with green moss. Walking up the stairs is like walking in a kaleidoscope -- the scenery changes with every step,

▲Past the stone stairs is the belfry before the main hall. The bell is struck at noon and at 5:00 PM

Following the worship route from the main hall, a view of Kyoto City and colored leaves is visible on the left hand side. It’s a perfect place to catch your breath before continuing up the route leading to Tahoto Pagoda (two-storied pagoda), an important cultural property built in the Momoyama period.

▲The pond behind the main hall along the way to Tahoto Pagoda reflects the beauty of the seasons year round.
▲Sagano is known for its bamboo forest. The contrast between the green bamboo and red leaves is a highlight that you won’t want to miss

Tahoto Pagoda is said to have been built by local leaders of Kyoto. It is 12m tall, housing statues of Shaka and Tahonyorai and referred to as Heisonkaku. The interior is off limits and can’t be seen, but the exterior and its ornate engravings are worth the visit.

Jojakko-ji, Filled with Beauty throughout the Seasons

Autumn may be the most colorful season, however Jojakko-ji is filled with beauty throughout the year such as cherry blossoms in spring, moss during the rainy season, vibrant greenery in early summer and the snowscape in winter.

▲In spring many mountain flowers bloom including shidare-sakura (weeping cherry) and yama-sakura, both varieties of cherry. The sight of so many flowers in bloom is like looking into nirvana.
▲From the mossy rainy season to early summer, the scenery gives a cool feeling
▲The path from the main gate to Niomon Gate is surrounded by greenery
▲A verdant world of moss and leaves
▲Winter view of snow covered Tahoto Pagoda. The cold temple grounds are filled with silence

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to Jojakko-ji Temple, and its colorful gradation of foliage and dramatic scenery throughout the year. If you are in the Sagano and Arashiyama region during your travels, please stop by this beautiful temple.

  • Jojakko-ji Temple
    常寂光寺
    • Address 3 Sagaogurayama Oguracho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
    • Phone Number 075-861-0435

    Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Reception closes at 4:30 PM)
    Admission Fee: 500 yen
    Closed: None

Text by:Myogaya Nobuhisa

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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