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Thursday, February 28, 2013

69,378 Documents Discovered in Daigo Temple Kyoto

Daigo Temple平安-明治 政情や災害記す6万9378通 醍醐寺文書聖教 国宝に

In Kyoto's Daigo Temple, nearly 70,000 documents dating from the Heian Period to the Meiji Era - or roughly 794 CE when Kyoto was founded until 1868 - were recently discovered.

The documents are related mainly to Buddhist teaching and natural disasters.

Daigo Temple was founded in the early part of the Heian period.

It is today known for its five-story pagoda, many cultural assets, wall paintings, and fall colors.

The pagoda was built in 951 and is the oldest building in Kyoto. It was one of very few buildings to survive the Onin War in the 15th century. This civil war essentially razed the entire city.

Daigo Temple is a bit of a ride from central Kyoto but can be done. It is up Sanjo, over the Keage hill, down to Yamashina, and then about 10 km to the right (see map below).


Sanboin, Shimo Daigo and Reihokan Museum (lower grounds)
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:00 from early December through February)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing; no closing days
Admission: 600 yen each for Sanboin, Shimo Daigo and Reihokan Museum
1000 yen combination ticket for Sanboin and Shimo Daigo
1500 yen combination ticket for Sanboin, Shimo Daigo and the Reihokan Museum

Kami Daigo (upper grounds)
Hours: Entry from 9:00 to 16:00 (until 15:00 from December through February)
Everybody must return to the base of the mountain by 17:00; no closing days
Admission: 600 yen

Cycling Kyoto City Hall to Daigo Temple

View Cycling Kyoto City Hall to Daigo Temple in a larger map

©Image Kyoto Prefecture

At least 40% off Campagnolo clothing!


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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bicycle Book Review Best Bike Paths of New England: Safe, Scenic and Traffic-Free Bicycling

Bike Paths in New England自転車の書評

As we have often noted, Kyoto has few cycling lanes (there is one real lane in the city, for those counting). Cycling in and among traffic is not pleasant.

For those who prefer bike paths, and are in New England, we have a book for you.

"The Best Bike Paths of New England: Safe, Scenic and Traffic-Free Bicycling" is a bike book for beginners, those just getting used to touring - but who want to take scenic rides.

In the US, the rails-to-trails - converting unused railway lines into bike paths - is creating a serious network throughout the country.

These are free of cars, red lights, and cars.

TV personality Wendy Williams has written a guide to such paths in New England. "The Best Bike Paths of New England" organizes paths by state and is comprehensive.

It includes:

1) A map of each state showing you where the path is
2) A detailed description of the path, including mileage
3) General background, including the history of the path and any useful tourist information
4) The level of difficulty, type of scenery, and condition of pavement
5) Availability of food and bathrooms
6) Directions, including the most accessible parking area

An excellent work.


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Kyoto Higashiyama Illumination 2013


It is almost light-up season in Kyoto. Several times a year, in key places, the city of Kyoto sets up lighting to highlight temples, bamboo groves, streets.

It is a wonderful evening out.

And most of it is free.

From March 8 - 17, every evening from 6 - 9 pm, a large section of Higashiyama will be illuminated.

The routes will take in Nene no Michi (The Path of Nene), Maruyama Park, Kiyomizu Temple, Kodaiji Temple, and more.

If you are riding, it is best to ride to close to the route, park, stroll, then ride to another part of the illuminated area.

Kyoto Higashiyama Illumination Map

View Kyoto Higashiyama Ilumination 2013 in a larger map


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cycling Kyoto Sidewalks Imadegawa

Kyoto Imadegawa Sidewalk京都報道を自転車で乗る今出川

Kyoto is made for cycling.

Skeptics and critics and whiners be damned, Kyoto is a very good place for both biking and cycling. In terms of scale, geography, weather (hmmm...), paved roads, cyclist-driver relations (generally non-aggressive, generally cooperative), it is a relaxed, flat city in which you can get from point A to point B in less than 30 minutes in nine rides out of ten.

Now for some criticism.

First, the city has a wonderful and growing parking infrastructure for bikes. In contrast, there are almost no bike lanes. Thus, cyclists have to choose to either ride in traffic or on sidewalks.

Cycling in traffic in much of Kyoto is safe, once you get used to the density of vehicles and people. Like all cities, it is a dance and you have to learn the rhythms and behaviors of the other participants particular to Kyoto.

For those that do not feel comfortable on the road, fear not; the cycling-on-the-sidewalk mindset is deeply entrenched in Kyoto. Cyclists are legally allowed to do so, and many do. Some even ring their bells at pedestrians, and the pedestrians automatically yield or move out of the way. Which we still find amazing in our second decade of cycling in Kyoto.

An extreme example of the culture of bikes over pedestrians is a bus stop on Imadegawa Dori. We commute on this stretch of Imadegawa - with the Imperial Palace on the south side, Doshisha University on the north - and it can be tight on the road. The sidewalk however is crowded with university and high school students, tourists and locals. Still, many cyclists opt for the sidewalk.

To alleviate one particularly narrow area (pictured above) where there is a bus stop, the city built a beautiful wooden platform over the small moat that separates the sidewalk from the wall of the Imperial Palace. This allows bus commuters to wait for the bus in a safe area as cyclists whizz by.

We were at the bus stop on Sunday and, while the platform is comfortable and bike-free, its existence seemed only to embolden cyclists to ride faster through what was once a space normally filled with people.


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Monday, February 25, 2013

Van Gogh in Paris: New Perspectives Kyoto Exhibit

Crab on Its Backゴッホ展空白のパリーを追う

A monster exhibit is coming to the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art this April.

Fifty works by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) from the collection of the Van Gogh Museum will be on display in Okazaki from April 2.

The exhibit left Holland and opened at Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki. It then traveled to South Korea in late July of last year. Following its sojourn in Kyoto, it will move on to Sendai and Hiroshima.

The exhibition includes a number of world-famous works by Van Gogh, including: "By the Seine," "In the Café: Agostina Segatori in Le Tambourin," "Wheatfield with Partridge," "A Crab on its Back," "Café Table with Absinthe," and "Self-portrait with Grey Felt Hat."

Get ready for long lines and craning your neck to see above and around a crowd of art loving pensioners.

The exhibit runs until 19 May 2013.

The museum is in the Okazaki section of Kyoto, which is a short ride from central Kyoto.

van goghInformation

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art
Okazaki Park, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8344
TEL: 075 771 4107

April 2 - May 19

Tickets are 1400 yen for adults, 1000 yen for high school and university students, 500 yen for junior high and elementary school students.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

World Cycling News 24 February 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年02月24日

40 Miles to Work, on a Bike New York Times

Giro d'Italia 2014 to begin with three days of Irish action BBC

A London Cyclist in Portland London Cyclist

Le vélo dans l'avenir de nos villes Le Monde

Spinning through the city, Mexican style. Maybe Manchester can copy Guardian

Pedalea otra vez, Sam El Pais

ツール・ド・ランカウイ2013 Cycling Time

Cycling czar? I’d love that job, says Olympic hero Chris Boardman The Times of London

Irvine wins two track medals for Ireland Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

Bicycle Goods

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SAVE 40% = £44.00
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Saturday, February 23, 2013


Heian Jingu Shrine ToriiCycling Kyoto Okazaki, Heian Shrine, Nanzenji Temple


In Okazaki, Kyoto, are several museums, a massive torii gate, and Heian Shrine.

It is a 10-minute ride or so from downtown Kyoto.

A bit farther east are Nanzenji Temple and the Philosophers Walk.

A perfect excursion.

Ride Okazaki ride.


Nanzenji Temple
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Tracking Toxic Particles and Pollution in Kyoto Online

PM 2.5携帯・スマホで無料注意

For those with a smart phone, the ability to read simple Japanese, and a slightly masochistic streak, we have just the site for you.

The site - Otenki Navigator (Weather Navigator) - will from te 25th of this month begin tracking the amount and size of micro particles of toxic material that is floating over from Chinese factories.

When those particles are 2.5 micrometers or smaller, they "tend to penetrate into the gas exchange regions of the lung, and very small particles (< 100 nanometers) may pass through the lungs to affect other organs." For no fee, you can check when the particles are of that size, thanks to Nihon Kisho, an Osaka company that runs the site.

The site provides a one-week prediction for particles, broken into twelve regions of Japan (metropolitan Tokyo, Tokai, Kinki, etc.).

To sign up, click on the above link with a smart phone or cell phone and register.

We are not sure if we want to know...


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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kyoto Spring Geisha Dance Kamishichiken

maiko-pontocho芸舞妓、春めいて 上七軒・北野をどり衣装合わせ

Every spring the respective "hanamachi" - areas where geisha work and live - put on performances.

In the oldest of the areas, Kamishichiken, the famed Kitano Odori will be held from March 25 - April 7.

A fitting session will be held on March 18th.

This year 29 geisha and maiko will be dancing and performing at the Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater.

In a traditional dance performance entitled "Snow Covered Bridge," the love story of a mythical beast known as a "Tengu" and a human woman is depicted.


Performances are held twice daily, at 1:30 and 4:00 pm. Tickets are 4,000 yen (4,500 yen with tea).

Telephone: 075 461 0148

Note: Ichiraku, the woman pictured, does not work in the Kamishichiken geisha area.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cycling in the Tokyo Rain


Outside of Ueno Park in the old downtown area of Tokyo many cyclists were out and about in awful winter weather.

After seeing the El Greco exhibit at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, we wandered over to SCAI, an old public bath that was converted into an art gallery.

There was a free installation that involved light and sound that echoed off the old walls.

A slow stroll through the temple-filled neighborhood was the plan.

Rain and cold, however, made us rethink that.

Besides, Cafe Kayaba is just down the street from SCAI, and coffee and some warmth were called for.

Kayaba CafeInformation

“El Greco’s Visual Poetics” (Painting)

Jan. 19-April. 7

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; (03) 5405-8686; 8-36 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo; Ueno Station, JR Yamanote Line. 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Fri. till 8:00 p.m.). ¥1,500. Closed Mon. (except Feb. 11),

“Haroon Mirza” (Installation)

Jan. 18-Feb. 23

Scai The Bathhouse; (03) 3821-1144; Kashiwayu-Ato, 6-1-23 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo; Nippori Station, JR Yamanote Line. 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Free admission. Closed Sun., Mon., holidays.


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Monday, February 18, 2013

Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival 2013

Tokyo Orchid Fair世界らん展2013東京

While in Tokyo over the weekend, we took in the annual orchid festival (aka, Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival 2013).

It was packed with orchid-mad mainly elderly folks.

The floor - baseball field - in Tokyo Dome was covered with orchid displays and sales of orchid-related items.

In one exhibit, a Dahon foldable bicycle was decorated with orchids.

The festival is over the top - and fabulous.

Tokyo Orchid FairInformation


Tokyo Dome
1-3-61, Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo


Open to public: Nine days from February 16 (Saturday) to February 24 (Sunday), 2013
Hours: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Entrance closes at 4:30 p.m.


2,000 yen for adults


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Sunday, February 17, 2013

World Cycling News 17 February 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年02月17日

Activists see Monday hearing as last chance to stop CRC bill Bike Portland

Cycling: Britain's Chris Froome wins Tour of Oman BBC

The dazzling bike light epidemic London Cyclist

Jonathan Hivert vainqueur final, Roux maître du CLM VéloRacingNews

If cycling infrastructure ideas are ignored, very little will change Guardian

La bici te representa El Pais

免許証交付で自覚 Yomiuri Shinbun

Second Gear The Times of London

Brailsford begins 2013 with laidback approach Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

Bicycle Goods

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List price £110.00
SAVE 40% = £44.00
Your Wiggle price: £66.00


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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hiking Kyoto Ohara

Kyoto Ohara自転車とハイキングで大原へ

Ohara is a rustic country village in the hills north of Kyoto.

It is best known for Sanzenin Temple, which is well worth visiting.

From the Kitayama area of Kyoto, cyclists and hikers can head up Route 367 all the way to Ohara. It is a relatively easy incline, and will take about 45 minutes from Kitayam to Ohara, if that.

For hikers, it is perhaps best to take the Eiden railways to Yase, and then hike the 7-8 km from there.

Also in Ohara are Raigoin Temple, and Otonashi no Taki ("no sound waterfall").

There are also several onsen (hot spring) in the village near Jakkoin Temple.

Ohara onsen offers over night stays, but for those who want to take a bath and not stay a 1,680 plan is available. You get the bath and a beer after (or before).


Ohara Onsen
18 Kuso-cho Ohara, Sakyo-ku
Kyoto 601-1248
TEL: 075 744 3300

Bike Goods

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Kyoto Ohara©

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Sites and Sights of Kyoto


Ah, the sights and sites of Kyoto.

On a recent ride to Ginkakuji Temple, the Philosophers Walk, and Gion (mistake - it was packed with pedestrian traffic), we took in the views.

Many tourists were out and about. On this street, with the hills of Higashiyama in the background, the well-dressed visitors made a nice complement to the well-preserved buildings.


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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baika Plum Festival Kitano Kita no Tenmangu Shrine

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine梅花祭北野天満宮

In continuing with yesterday's theme - plum trees in Kyoto - the Baika-sai Plum Blossom Viewing Festival will be held at Kita no Tenmangu Shrine on February 25.

It is essentially a large outdoor tea ceremony that begins at 10 am. It is performed by the geiko and maiko from nearby Kamishichiken.

For 1,500 yen you are served green matcha green tea and a sweet - and a close look at the lovely ladies in full kimono.


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Monday, February 11, 2013

Plum Blossoms in Bloom at Kita no Tenmangu Shrine Kyoto

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine膨らむ、春の予感 北野天満宮で梅苑公開

Winter has been harsh this year.

Repeated cold fronts from continental Asia have swept through much of Honshu, keeping temperatures lower than normal.

As a result, the annual harbinger of spring - the blossoming of the plum trees - has been a bit late in coming.

However, the famed plum grove in Kita no Tenmangu Shrine is now in bloom.

That is the first sign that old man winter is now past its peak. In another month or so, the cherry trees will be in bloom - and we cannot wait.


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Sunday, February 10, 2013

World Cycling News 10 February 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年02月10日

Cycle Oregon servers slammed, registration headaches ensue Bike Portland

Mark Cavendish seals Tour of Qatar win with final stage victory BBC

Join Breakthrough Breast Cancer to join over 20,000 cyclists taking part in the RideLondon-Surrey 100 London Cyclist

Jonathan Hivert vainqueur final, Roux maître du CLM > VéloRacingNews

Should Lance Armstrong be banned from Strava? Guardian

La bici te representa El Pais

自転車かごにナイフ入れ、逃走のコンビニ襲撃男 Yomiuri Shinbun

Builders’ lorries ‘must put cycle safety first’ The Times of London

Wiggins convinced Armstrong doped in 2009 Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

Bicycle Goods

Salomon XR Crossmax Guidance Shoes aw12

List price £110.00
SAVE 40% = £44.00
Your Wiggle price: £66.00


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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kyoto News Number of Tourists from China Declines

中国人観光客、春節で入洛復調 レーダー照射なお不安

The number of visitors from China to Kyoto has decreased.

On the eve of the Chinese new year, which falls on the 10th of February, fewer visitors from mainland China are in Kyoto.

Territorial disputes over the Senkaku Islands is the main culprit, according to the Kyoto Shinbun newspaper.

In addition, the more modern attractions of Osaka and its easy accessibility of Kansai International Airport means that many Chinese visit Osaka - shop, visit Universal Studios Japan, eat - and then return to China without sampling Kyoto.

Bicycle Goods

Castelli Squadra Long Waterproof Jacket


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Friday, February 8, 2013

Toxic Smog from China Reaches Japan


Living in Japan, one soon becomes accustomed to the yellow sands that blow in from deserts in Mongolia and China at different times of the year. This leaves a fine film on cars, windows, and on really bad days on the road itself.

This year, however, more toxic substances appear to be arriving from the Asian mainland.

Prevailing winds from the west are carrying particles from Asia, in particular China.

In the northern Kyushu region of Japan, the concentration of particles 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter has been as high as 50 micrograms per cubic meter in the last few days. The government’s safety limit is 35 micrograms.

Experts have confirmed that these particles are not yellow sand - and thus are toxic.

As one who commutes to work or for errands on a daily basis here in Kyoto, north of Kyushu but not that far away, this has got us wondering.

We finally pulled out the black cycling mask we ordered a few years ago. It is uncomfortable, ugly, and only good for mask-friendly Japan (in the US, the cops would pull you over as a suspect in a bank robbery). Still, we hope, it is preventing toxic particles from entering our lungs.

Bicycle Goods

Castelli Squadra Long Waterproof Jacket


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Thursday, February 7, 2013


Riding through NishijinCycling Kyoto Nishijin


In the western area of central Kyoto is the old "western camp," or better known today as Nishijin.

During the Onin War of the 15th century, in which most of Kyoto was destroyed by warring factions, the area now called Nishijin (literally, "west camp") was where one of those factions set up camp.

For many centuries thereafter, and up to the present, Nishijin has been synonymous with textiles and the kimono.

Nishijin today is a warren of narrow streets great for cycling, where you can in places still hear the whack-whack of looms at work.

There are many small temples, good cafes, several public baths, and a few museums.

Ride Nishijin ride.


Nishijin Temple
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kyoto Silver Pavilion Koi


At the Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji Temple), koi lazily did laps in a small pond.

Carp, like goldfish, have evolved for northern hemisphere winters.

Like bear - and the small killifish ("medaka," in Japanese) - they "hibernate."

That means that the carp during the cold months are nearly still, using as little as energy as possible but just enough to stay afloat.

They eat little and rarely excrete.

As a result, they are popular and beautiful pets.

Carp are prized - and expensive - so we opted for goldfish. They are lovely and easy to care for.


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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Osaka Bicycle Delivery

Osaka Bicycle Delivery Namba大阪難波自転車配達

While in Namba, the southern hub of central Osaka, we spied a green delivery bike and buggy.

The delivery man had a matching green jacket.

For the crowded streets of central Osaka - and Kyoto, as well - these guys are everywhere and faster than other forms of delivery.

The trucks ply the routes farther afield.


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Monday, February 4, 2013

Robert Doisneau Photography Exhibit Kyoto

robert-doisneau生誕100年記念写真展 ロベール・ドアノー

The Kyoto Eki Museum at the massive Kyoto Station, 7F in the Isetan Department store, is hosting a wonderful exhibit of photos by the French artist Robert Doisneau.

The exhibit is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Doisneau's work.

Parking is available in a lot next to the Central Post Office on the north side, or in the lots that are on the sidewalk of the south side of the Station.


Kyoto Eki Museum
January 30 - February 24
10 am - 8 pm

Admission: Adults ¥800 yen
College and senior high school students ¥600


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Sunday, February 3, 2013

World Cycling News 3 February 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年02月03日

Goldsprints debut at Velo Cult Bike Portland

Olympic cycling set for Rio Games extension BBC

Welcome to Alaska, where Winter is Cold and Bikes are Fat NPR

7 Sportives you should try in 2013 London Cyclist

Jonathan Hivert vainqueur final, Roux maître du CLM > VéloRacingNews

Car, bike, train, or walk: how people get to work mapped Guardian

Título VI El Pais

自転車事故 厳罰で危険運転にブレーキを(2月4日付・読売社説)Yomiuri Shinbun

Builders’ lorries ‘must put cycle safety first’ The Times of London

Wiggins convinced Armstrong doped in 2009 Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

Bicycle Goods

Salomon XR Crossmax Guidance Shoes aw12

List price £110.00
SAVE 40% = £44.00
Your Wiggle price: £66.00


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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Kyoto Design Sense Minatoya Shop


Japan is justly famed for its design. From ukiyoe to manga, Japan has a rich visual culture.

Even tv ads and window displays are often works of art.

This window display in Kyoto is an example.

It features the work of Takehisa Yumeji, a self-trained Japanese painter who died at 49 in 1934.

This store, Minatoya, is located near Ginkakuji Temple in Kyoto. There are a total of five shops: two in Tokyo, two in Kyoto, and one in Oita.


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Friday, February 1, 2013

Kimono Beauties Kyoto Silver Pavilion


On a winter visit to the Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji Temple), we found these three young women bedecked in fine kimonos.

The day was overcast and biting cold.

The ride along Imadegawa Dori past the Imperial Palace and Kyoto University was bracing (read: frigid).

It was well worth it.

Our umpteenth visit to the World Heritage site was rewarding. The time of year, the sense of time stopping, never disappoints.

The zen temple at the northern end of Philosophers Walk is wabi sabi refined elegance at its best. It was built in 1460 C.E.

It is today affiliated with the Shokoku-ji branch of Rinzai Zen and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


2 Ginkaku-cho Sakyo-ku Kyoto
Tel: 075 771 5725

8:30 to 17:00 (9:00 to 16:30 from December to February)


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