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Permission notes VI

Kodai-ji *

Kodai-ji was founded in 1605 as memorial temple of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Thus several of the structures make use of Ming-Chinese ornamental elements, which in early Edo were reserved for architecture of the rulers. In the precincts of the temple there are several tea pavilions. Among them Karakasa-tei and Shigure-tei, which are related to the tea master Sen Rikyu and thus gives indications of the nature of the Momoyama tea pavilion. Karakasa-tei and Shigure-tei were originally situated near Fushimi Castle and only later transferred to Kodai-ji. Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Kodai-ji is generally open to the public.

Kodai-ji, 526 Shimokawara-cho, Kodaijishita, Higashiyama-ku, 605 Kyoto

Tel.: (075) 561 9966
Fax: (075) 561-7387



Koetsu-ji is a temple in Takagamine, in the low mountains just north of Kyoto. In 1615 Hon'ami Koetsu (1558-1637), a renowned tea master, potter and calligrapher out of a sword makers family, established a settlement of artists and craftsmen on this location. The precincts of Koetsu-ji have several tea pavilions in an almost natural forest like setting that seamlessly blends with the forested landscape around. One of the pavilions is surrounded with a characteristic round bamboo fence. Nichiren Buddhism.

Koetsu-ji is generally open to the public. But the tea pavilions are generally not open.

Koetsu-ji, 29 Koetsu-cho, Takagamine, Kita-ku, 603 Kyoto

Tel.: (075) 491 1305 / (075) 491 1399


Kojo-in, a subtemple of Onjo-ji, often called Miidera, is located to the eastern side of Hiei-san, Kyoto's protective mountain. Kojo-in is a shoin building erected just at the beginning of the Edo period, and it is an excellent example of the decorative Momoyama architecture when it is best. The whole tokonoma is filled with paintings executed on gold bottom, and the intimate pond garden space between building and mountain garden relation is a masterpieces of natural harmony and quietude. Around 11.30 the light is sublime, when the rays of the sun are reflected up under the deep eaves exposing the ripples of the pond.

The temple compound of Onjo-ji / Miidera is generally open to the public and has a series of interesting buildings. Also neighbouring Enman-in should be visited. But the two guest halls of this temple, Kangaku-in and Kojo-in, of which I prefer Kojo-in, take special permission. 10 years ago I received such permission for Kojo-in in order to make illustration material for an exhibition on Japanese architecture. And even then I had to go three times to the temple in order to enter Kojo-in. Tendai Buddism.

Address: 246 Onjoji-cho, Otsu-shi, Shiga

Tel.: (0775) 22-2238


Koho-an *

Koho-an is a subtemple of Daitoku-ji. It was established in 1621 as the retirement place for the tea master Kobori Enshu (1579-1647). At Koho-an, he made some of his best sukiya architecture, including the tea room Bosen and the sukiya shoin, which demonstrates the highly sophisticated spatial organisation of the sukiya architecture as it developed around the middle of 17th century. Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Koho-an is not open to the general public. Application might be made on a return postcard - or even better through some kind of personal connection. No fixed entrance fees, but for a group of students, a donation of 1.000 yen per person might be appropriate, unless there is asked for special services. Photography not permitted. The visit to Koho-an was among the peak experiences of out study tour.

Koho-an, Daitokuji-cho, Murasakino, Kita-ku, 603 Kyoto

Tel.: (075) 491 3698

Kokedera *

Kokedera, the Moss Temple, is the informal name of Saiho-ji, and it is said to have more than 100 species of moss. Its history dates back longer, but in 1339 Kokedera and its garden was redesigned by Zen master Muso Kokushi (1275-1351). Most of the buildings and flowering trees around the pond of Muso's time have disappeared long time ago, but the forest overgrown moss covered traces of the former temple have an unprecedented beauty. The garden is formed around a pond in the shape of the character shin (or kokoro), meaning heart, spirit, or mind. In the garden is situated a tea pavilion, Shonan-tei said to arise from Sen Rikyu's son, Sen Shoan (1546-1614). Rinzai Zen Buddhism. A tour to Kokedera includes participation in a sutra ceremony before entering the garden. In the main hall you'll se striking fusuma paintings of recent origin, made by Domoto Insho.

Kokedera is not open to the general public. Application should be made through a return postcard. After the initial sutra ceremony, you are entering the garden. And here you can stay as long as you want. The price for a visit is quite high end, 3.000 yen, but the garden is a breathtaking experience in all seasons. I was insisting that my students actually experienced it, and it turned out to be another of our peak experiences.

At our return postcard we mentioned that we would very much like to se the interior of Shonan-tei. I called a few days before our visit in order to have the possibility confirmed, and we were asked to mention about our wish to see Shonan-tei upon our arrival. So after most of the visitors in the group had seen the garden, they opened the pavilion and let us experience it from the inside.

Saiho-ji, 56 Kamigatani-cho, Matsuo, Nishikyo-ku, 615-8286 Kyoto

Tel.: (075) 391 3631

URL: (images)

Konchi-in *

Konchi-in was founded in early 15th century and moved to the present place in 1605. Konchi-in has a variety of interesting gardens and architecture, of which most is designed by Kobori Enshu (1579-1647) - among this the tea room: Hasso-seki by Kobori Enshu. Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Konchi-in is generally open to the public, but the shoin with fusuma paintings by Hasegawa Tohaku and the tea room: Hasso-seki by Kobori Enshu takes special arrangement by return postcard. You are not permitted to enter Hasso-seki, only to look into it through the nichiri-guchi and the sado-guchi. Even then it is highly recommended to arrange to see also the shoin and the tea room. Price 1.000 yen. It gives in one place the full vocabulary of the Edo architecture, from the mausoleum and Hojo to the sukiya shoin and the small tea room.

Konchi-in, 86-12 Fukuchi-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, 606 Kyoto

Tel.: (075) 771 3511
Fax: (075) 752 3520

Koto-in *

Koto-in is a subtemple of Daitoku-ji. It was founded in 1601 as the retirement place for Hosokawa Sansai, who studied tea under Sen Rikyu. Thus Sansai's tea room Shoko-ken is considered close to the aesthetic preferences of Sen Rikyu. The spatial experience of entering Koto-in is striking, and together with the quiet Hojo garden, the shoin tea rooms and Shoko-ken, it makes Koto-in an important visit for the student of traditional Japanese architecture. Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Koto-in is generally open to the public.

Koto-in, 73-1 Daitokuji-cho, Murasakino, Kita-ku, 603-8231 Kyoto

Tel.: (075) 492 0068
Fax: (075) 493 8733

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Continue to Kyoto, places to visit, M-N (7 of 11).