Joju-ji, established in 810 at the will of the emperor of the time, is a Buddhist Temple dedicated to the protection of the nation and prosperity of the Imperial Household. One of its most distinctive features is the beautiful, crimson-colored pathway that leads up to the temple precinct. Joju-ji was destroyed by a fire in the 1500s but was rebuilt in 1687 as a temple of Obaku Buddhism. Obaku is a sect of Zen Buddhism introduced from China during the Edo period. These Chinese origins have influenced Joju-ji's unique structure and layout.

3 Points to Further Enjoy Joju-ji Temple

Feng Shui

In the countries of East Asia, there are four celestial creatures that represent the four cardinal directions: Genbu (Black Tortoise) in the north, Suzaku (Vermillion Bird) in the south, Seiryu (Blue Dragon) in the east, and Byakko (White Tiger) in the west. The Byakko (White Tiger) known for its auspiciousness protects the west, which is where Joju-ji is located within Kyoto. It is said to be the oldest of the four animals, representing health and longevity. "West" also represents autumn which is the season for harvest and to appreciate the four seasons. Autumn is a great time to visit Joju-ii Temple as many of the maple trees are beautifully changing color.


Buddhism originated in India and was introduced to Japan through China during the 6th century over a period of 1,000 years. It is currently divided into 13 sects which coexist without conflict. There are many temples nationwide, most with a main image of Buddha, in Japanese called Honzon, placed in the main hall.
This statue is believed to heal the problems and sufferings of the people. Many Japanese people will unconsciously put their hands together in prayer when they stand before the Honzon.

Obaku Sect

The Obaku sect of Buddhism is a representative denomination of Japanese Buddhism, known for performing Zen meditation. The Tokugawa shogunate invited a famous monk named Ingen from China, who spread the Obaku sects teachings throughout Japan. The alignment of the important buildings in one straight line within the precincts, the Chinese inspired style and decoration, and the readings of Sutras are distinct features of this sect.

Places of Interest on The Temple Ground

Main Hall (Hondo)

This building enshrines the Honzon, at this temple a statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha. The priest at the far left is Dharma Daishi, renowned for Zen meditation. Dharma figures are popular as souvenirs in Japan.
Kannon is enshrined next to Dharma Daishi. Kannon is a Buddha who watches over people when they are suffering. There is a theory that Kannon is the origin for "Canon", the world-famous camera manuracturer.

Wooden Fish (Kaipan)

Wooden fish are often seen in Obaku and Soto sect temples. These fish are used to notify meal times when struck with a stick. Because fish sleep with their eyes open, the fish is a symbol to encourage priests to engage in training while sacrificing sleep. One of the essential teachings in Buddhism is to overcome greed, hatred and ignorance, which are known as the "Three Poisons," represented by the ball inside the mouth of the fish. This one is a scaled replica, but you can find an original at Manpuku-it Temple in Uii City.


In Zen temples of the Rinzai sect, gardens constructed in the Karesansui-style, using pebbles and rocks to portray waves and water, are popular; however, the Obaku sect developed the Ikemizu-style garden, which uses actual water. Other unique characteristics of the Obaku sect are the buildings which are arranged in a straight line, as well as the small stone at the center of the pond in the southern garden, which is said to be the tooth of Buddha that represents the origin of the temple.

Painting of Dragon and Clouds

This piece was done by Tanyu Kano, the ninth-generation artist of the famous Kano school.
A dragon was chosen for this painting, because in Buddhism, there is a God of Protection known as "Ryujin, which directly translates to "Dragon God."
Ryujin would summon clouds and call forth rain, which was a ward against fires, in Buddhism, this rain is known as the "Rain of Salvation."

Abbot's Quarters (Hojo)

This chamber was relocated and previously belonged to Date Tsunamura, the great grandson of Date Masamune, a well-known feudal lord in late 16th century.
One of Date Masamune's greatest accomplishments was dispatching his men to Spain, and in 1615 receiving an audience with Spanish King Felipe Ill and Pope Paul V. This chamber was constructed with a space for ninja guards to hide and escape holes through alcoves.


9 Yamada Hiraki-cho Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi
From Hankyu Railway "Kami Katsura"(上桂) Sta.
10-mins. walk from the station
From JR "Kyoto"(京都) Sta.
5-mins. walk from bus stop "Kokedera Suzumushidera"(苔寺・すず虫寺) Kyoto Bus(京都バス) No. 73
From Subway Kyoto Line "Shijo" Sta.
7-mins. walk from bus stop "Matsuo Dairi-cho"(松尾大利町) Kyoto City Bus(京都市バス) No. 29
From Keihan Railway "Sanjo" Sta.
5-mins. walk from bus stop "Kokedera Suzumushidera"(苔寺・すず虫寺) Kyoto Bus(京都バス) No. 63