When you first see the huge Niomon Gate on the hill above the Omuro-Ninna-ji train station, you get a sense for the grandeur of Ninna-ji Temple. Giant wooden temple guards stand on either side of the gate. As you pass through the gate, you see ancient temple buildings and gardens set in front of beautiful mountain scenery. The mountain backdrop adds to the beauty of cherry tree orchards and gardens.
On the left, you pass a grove of late blooming, dwarf cherry trees (sakura), and shortly after, the five-story pagoda on your right. The scale of the temple buildings here is massive, and they are spread among beautiful gardens with ponds and raked stone. Ninna-ji is a very impressive place, and is one of the 17 temples in Kyoto on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites.
The temple grounds were originally a summer retreat for the Imperial Family. The temple was established in 886, and completed in 888 by the former Emperor Uda, who became a priest here. Many members of the Imperial Family became priests here thought the centuries, until 1869, when the Imperial Family moved to Tokyo.
Ninna-ji Temple, along with most of Kyoto, was destroyed in the fires of the Onin War in 1467. It was later rebuilt in the mid-17th century by Emperor Go-Yozei’s son. The Kon-do, or main hall, was moved here from the Imperial Palace, along with the Mikage-do. The Kon-do is now a National Treasure and holds the Amida-Nyorai Buddha statue, as well as historic paintings and documents.
Getting to Ninna-ji Temple
From JR Kyoto Station (40 minutes)
Bus to Omuro-Ninna-ji bus stop
Walk 1 minute
Walk 10 minutes
JR Sagano Line Hanazono Station
Walk 20 minutes
Open all year
Adults: 500 yen
Cherry blossom viewing: 500 yen
Reiho-kan (Treasury Hall): 500 yen
33 Omuro-Oouchi, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto