Temple architecture

Kyoto’s Koho-an Temple will be open to the public this spring

Although there are hundreds of temples scattered across Kyoto, not all of them are open to the public in the same way as famous places like Kinkaku-ji or Kiyomizu-dera. Koho-an, a sub-temple of the vast Rinzai Daitoku-ji Buddhist temple complex, is one such site that rarely allows visitors. This spring, however, the temple will temporarily open its grounds to the public for the first time in seven years.

Photo: Okada Katsutoshi, courtesy of Kyoto Shunji

Koho-an was designed by 17th-century magistrate Kobori Enshu, who is sometimes called Japan’s Leonardo da Vinci because of his mastery of architecture, the art of landscaping, and the tea ceremony Japanese. For this reason, the temple is particularly appreciated for its picturesque interior gardens and its Bosen tea house, which were built together to create the image of a boat floating on nearby Lake Biwa.

Photo: Kyoto Shunji

From May 24 to June 12visitors will not only be able to see the temple’s revered teahouse and gardens, but also a rare ink wash by Kano Tan’yu, who was the first official painter of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Photo: Kyoto Shunji

Since this is an opportunity that only comes around a handful of times in a decade, it’s worth planning a trip to Kyoto to coincide with this public visit. The temple will be open from 9:30 a.m. daily, with last entry at 4 p.m. Reservations are not required unless you are in a party of ten or more. There is an entrance fee of¥1,000 for adults and ¥500 for students, but elementary school children or younger can enter for free.

For more information, visit the event website.

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