Japan Kyoto Northern Kyoto

Daitokuji Temple

Historic Zen Buddhist temple with deep cultural significance

Photo of Daitokuji Temple, Japan (Daitoku-ji, Kyoto by np&djjewell)

Daitokuji Temple stands as a prominent Zen Buddhist complex in Kyoto, Japan, reflective of traditional Japanese culture. Founded in the early 14th century, its influence has extended to various Japanese traditions, including the tea ceremony, and it showcases a collection of cultural treasures on its extensive grounds.

About Daitokuji Temple

Daitokuji Temple, known as Daitoku-ji, represents the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen. Established by the monk Shuho Myocho, also known as Daito Kokushi, in the early 14th century, the temple’s complex includes over 20 sub-temples, known as “tatchu,” and has been central to Zen Buddhism in Japan. Its architecture and gardens are iconic of Zen aesthetics, offering simplicity and elegance.

Daitokuji has seen prosperity and challenges, such as rivalries and political conflicts. Recovering from damage in the Onin War (1467-1477), the temple was restored by the influential monk Ikkyu Sojun with Sakai merchant support. Toyotomi Hideyoshi constructed Soken-in sub-temple in 1582 for Oda Nobunaga. Historical figures like Sen no Rikyu and Kobori Enshu have strengthened its cultural significance.

Renowned for artistic and architectural features, Daitokuji includes the national treasure Karamon Gate and the Hojo Garden, recognized for scenic beauty. It is a repository of art, with fusuma paintings and tea ceremony utensils, reflecting the influence of Chinese artist-monk Mu Qi.

Open sub-temples like Daisen-in Temple, Ryogen-in Temple, and Kotoin Temple, each offer distinct experiences. Zuihoin Temple, though smaller, features unique gravel patterns.

Special openings of usually closed sub-temples provide glimpses into their secluded spaces. The temple’s impact on the arts solidifies its importance for those attracted to Japanese Zen philosophy and culture.

Getting There the easiest way to reach Daitokuji Temple

K 04

 Karasuma Line

 10-20 minute walk (1.5km)

Around Daitokuji Temple

Daitokuji Temple

Buddhist Temple in Kyoto


大徳寺, 京都

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Updated 14 Mar 2024 • Report an error

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