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Shorenin (˜@@, Shōrenin) is a temple of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism located at the foot of Kyoto's Higashiyama mountains. It is one of the city's monzeki temples, which are temples whose head priests were traditionally members of the imperial family. A winding route takes visitors through Shorenin's various temple buildings and gardens.

Shorenin's close relationship with the Japanese imperial family dates back to the temple's founding in the 12th century. Emperor Toba was a follower of the Tendai sect, whose head temple is Enryakuji Temple in the mountains of northeastern Kyoto. The emperor had his son study under Enryakuji's head priest and built Shorenin as a city residence for the two. Over time the residence evolved into a genuine temple. As an interesting turn of fate, Shorenin once again served as a residence during the 18th century when a fire forced an empress to use the temple as her temporary living quarters.

After entering, visitors to Shorenin first walk through the Kachoden drawing room, which has portraits on the walls and paintings on the sliding doors (fusuma). The drawing room opens up to a garden with pond, which visitors can admire from the building while sitting on tatami mats. Shorenin's other principle buildings are connected to the Kachoden by wooden walkways. The temple's largest building is the Shinden, and its main hall is the small Shijokodo Hall.

The Shijokodo Hall houses the temple's main objects of worship, two paintings that are very rarely displayed to the public. The principal object of worship is a mandala, which is a drawing that represents Buddhist deities and the structure of the religious universe. In front of the mandala's protective covering there is a small jade statue. The other main object of worship is a drawing of Fudo Myoo, a fearsome deity of wisdom who is surrounded by flames and holds a sword. A replica of the drawing is on display at the Seiryuden branch temple on top of the mountain behind Shorenin at the Shogunzuka Mound.

In addition to admiring the gardens of Shorenin from the temple buildings, visitors are encouraged to stroll along the garden paths to get a closer look. From the Kachoden, a trail cuts through the garden up a small hill and leads past a tea house. There is also a small shrine and a bamboo grove. Spread out in front of the Shinden is a moss garden that is surrounded by massive camphor trees. In spring and fall the temple is open for special evening hours, during which the gardens are dramatically illuminated.

Getting there and around

Shorenin is located beside Chionin Temple, a bit north of Maruyama Park and Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto's Higashiyama District.

The temple is also a five minute walk from the nearest subway station, Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Line (15 minutes, 260 yen by subway from Kyoto Station via Karasuma-Oike), or a five minute walk from the nearest bus stop, Jingu-michi bus stop (30 minutes, 230 yen from Kyoto Station by Kyoto City Bus number 5).

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Hotels around Kyoto

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    • Ryokan Mugen (Adult Only)
      Luxury
      Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Mitsuki Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      In a prime location in Kyoto, Mitsuki Kyoto offers an Asian breakfast and free WiFi. The property features inner courtyard and quiet street views, and is 600 metres from Kyoto International Manga Museum. The accommodation features full-day security, and luggage storage for guests. The ryokan provides certain units with garden views, and the units are equipped with a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy a vegetarian or a vegan breakfast, which can also be delivered to your room. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at this 2-star ryokan. Guests can also relax in the garden. Nijo Castle is 1.1 km from the ryokan, while Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall is 1.8 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 46 km from Mitsuki Kyoto.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesf bus ride away.
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    • Ryokan Tori
      Mid-range
      Ryokan Tori is located in Kyoto, 2 km from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The property is around 2.3 km from Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property is 3.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple and 3.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. All guest rooms in the ryokan are fitted with a kettle. Each room has a shared bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also offer a garden view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at tori can enjoy an Asian breakfast. Heian Shrine is 5 km from the accommodation. Itami Airport is 50 km from the property.
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    • Kyonoyado Gekkoan
      Luxury
      Set in the Nakagyo Ward district in Kyoto, Kyonoyado Gekkoan offers an equipped accommodation with an balcony and free WiFi. The property is 1.1 km from Nijo Castle. This holiday home comes with a kitchenette with a microwave and a toaster, a flat-screen TV, a seating area and a bathroom with a bath. A vegetarian or continental breakfast is available daily at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.1 km from the holiday home. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km from the property.
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    • Guesthouse Engawa
      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Gallery Nozawa Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Gallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.
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    • Yado Kiramachi
      Luxury
      Situated conveniently in Kyoto, Yado Kiramachi offers an Asian breakfast and free WiFi. The air-conditioned accommodation is 600 metres from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. Certain units in the ryokan have private entrance and are equipped with desk and wardrobe. The units have a private bathroom, while selected rooms will provide you with a balcony and others also have a garden view. At the ryokan, some units are soundproof. A bar can be found on-site. Guests can relax in the garden at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 1.3 km from the ryokan, while Gion Shijo Station is 1.6 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Yado Kiramachi.
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    • Guesthouse HANA Nishijin
      Mid-range
      Guesthouse HANA Kyoto is located in Kyoto, 300 metres from Kitano Tenmangu and 1.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple. A simple complimentary breakfast service is provided for guests. Bathroom facilities are shared. Guesthouse HANA Kyoto features free WiFi throughout the property. There is a shared kitchen and a common area with a TV at the property. Nijo Castle is 2.1 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto, while Imperial Palace is 2.3 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto.
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    • Hotel Muso
      Mid-range
      Well located in Kyoto, Hotel Muso provides 3-star accommodation close to Gion Shijo Station and Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The property is around 1.8 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto, 2 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum and 2.3 km from Kyoto Station. Providing free WiFi throughout the property, the non-smoking hotel features a hot tub. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a coffee machine, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. Rooms come with a kettle, while selected rooms come with a kitchen with a microwave, a minibar and a stovetop. At Hotel Muso each room has bed linen and towels. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Sanjusangen-do Temple, Samurai Kembu Kyoto and Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Hotel Muso.
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Experiences around Kyoto

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