Kodaiji Temple

17 of 63 spots
in Kyoto
84% 578
votes
× How was it?

Kodaiji (高台寺, Kōdaiji) is an outstanding temple in Kyoto's Higashiyama District. It was established in 1606 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan's greatest historical figures, by Hideyoshi's wife Nene who is also enshrined at the temple.

Kodaiji belongs to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Its main buildings were constructed in the lavish style of the era of Japan's unification with the financial support of Hideyoshi's successor Tokugawa Ieyasu. They feature richly decorated interiors and are surrounded by beautiful Zen gardens.

Kodaiji's rock garden

Visitors can enter Kodaiji's main hall (Hojo), which was originally covered in lacquer and gold, but was rebuilt in a more modest style after it burned down in 1912. The building is surrounded on two sides by impressive gardens designed by leading contemporary masters. The gardens are lit up during special illumination shows in spring and autumn.

One of the gardens is a rock garden consisting of a large field of raked gravel meant to represent the vast ocean. The other garden is an impressive tsukiyama style garden featuring a pond, man made hills, decorative rocks and beautiful pine and maple trees, the latter of which turn brilliant shades of red and orange during the autumn color season. Within this garden stands the Kaizando (memorial hall) where Nene would pray for Hideyoshi and which now enshrines wooden images of both of them.

Kodaiji's Tsukiyama garden with Kaizando Hall

Up on the hillside behind the temple lies a mausoleum for Hideyoshi and Nene. The interior is richly decorated with special lacquerwork, known as Kodaiji Makie, that features designs of powdered gold and silver set in lacquer, a technique that Kodaiji is famous for. Further up the hill are two tea houses, one of which was designed by the tea master Sen no Rikyu, as Hideyoshi was a fervent tea ceremony practitioner. The return path to the temple buildings passes through a bamboo grove.

After one exits the temple, a series of steps, named Nene's Path, will lead back down to the streets of the Higashiyama District. Across the street from Nene's Path is a recently redeveloped area with some shops and cafes. This area is also home to the small Kodaiji Sho Museum, which exhibits treasures of Kodaiji, Nene and several pieces of lacquer artwork. The complex is surrounded by the buildings of Entokuin Temple, a small subtemple of Kodaiji that features two more Zen gardens.

Bamboo grove

Get There and Around

Kodaiji is located in the Higashiyama District between Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizudera. It is a 5-10 minute walk from Higashiyama Yasui bus stop (15 minutes, 230 yen from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or 206).

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours and Fees

Kodaiji Temple

Hours

9:00 to 17:30 (entry until 17:00)

Closed

No closing days

Fees

600 yen (Kodaiji and Sho Museum)
900 yen (Kodaiji, Sho Museum and Entokuin)

Kodaiji Sho Museum

Hours

9:30 to 18:00

Closed

No closing days

Fees

300 yen

Entokuin Temple

Hours

10:00 to 17:30 (entry until 17:00)

Closed

No closing days

Fees

500 yen
Last updated: January 16, 2014
Anything we can improve?  Let us know
We strive to keep Japan Guide up-to-date and accurate, and we're always looking for ways to improve. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:
Thank you for your feedback.

Hotels around Kyoto

Find a hotel:

  • Kyoto
  • Fukuoka
  • Hakone
  • Hiroshima
  • Hokkaido
  • Kamakura
  • Kanazawa
  • Kansai Airport
  • Kyoto
  • Mount Fuji
  • Nagasaki
  • Nagoya
  • Narita Airport
  • Nikko
  • Niigata
  • Okinawa
  • Osaka
  • Sapporo
  • Sendai
  • Shima Peninsula
  • Takayama
  • Tokyo
  • 1 night
  • 2 nights
  • 3 nights
  • 4 nights
  • 5 nights
  • 6 nights
  • 7 nights
with:
  • JAPANiCAN
  • Hotels.com
  • Booking.com
  • Agoda
  • Hostel World
  • Japanese Guest Houses
  • Rakuten Travel
Sponsored

Gion Hatanaka

A real Japanese inn in a quiet area of Gion, famous for Geisha. 15min walk to Kiyomizu-dera. 5min to Yasaka-jinja.

Sponsored

Ryokan Motonago

A real traditional inn at Gion with 11 rooms, friendly staff. Walking distance of Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka-jinja and more.

Sponsored

Gion Shinmonso

A fine ryokan in the Gion near geisha streets. Easy access to Kiyomizu-dera and Yasaka-jinja. Special offers available.

Japan Guide Recommends:

Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto

One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.

Book:
Agoda Booking

Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.

Book:
Agoda Booking

Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel

Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.

Book:
Agoda Booking

Khaosan Kyoto Guest House

Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.

Book:
Agoda Booking

New Miyako Hotel Kyoto

Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.

Book:
Agoda Booking

Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto

Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.

Book:
Agoda Booking

Tours and Packages