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Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan

Takao (高雄) is a thinly populated, mountainous area with three historic temples along its forested valley, a one-hour bus ride north of central Kyoto, Japan. Jingoji (神護寺), the first of these temples, is the most visited one in the area, which draws the biggest crowds during the autumn season, but makes for a beautiful visit any time of year.

Gear used for this set of photos:

  • Fujifilm X-E2 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom lens (images marked [F])
  • iPhone 5 (images marked [I])

From the Takao bus stop, the first part of the approach to Jingoji is a short descent through the forest, until the path opens up at a bridge that crosses the Kiyotaki River [F].
Kiyotaki River, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

On the opposite side of the river, there is the Takao Kanko Hotel, which also has a restaurant catering to hikers and bicyclists frequenting the area [F].
Takao Kanko Hotel, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

The stone steps next to the hotel mark the beginning of the steep ascent to Jingoji Temple [I].
Stairs to Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

About halfway along the approach to Jingoji, one passes this small noodle restaurant [F], …
Restaurant along the approach to Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

…, after which another flight of stairs leads up towards Jingoji’s Rōmon (楼門; “Tower Gate”), which was reconstructed from the original 9th century structure in 1623 [F].
Climbing towards the Rōmon Gate, Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

Passing through the Rōmon, the visitor arrives on the temple’s beautiful and spacious premises [F].
Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

The historic structures on the site include the oldest surviving building called Daishi-dō (大師堂) [F], …
Daishi-do, Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

… as well as Godai-dō (五大堂; left) and Bishamon-dō (毘沙門堂; right), both of which also date back to the 1623 reconstruction [I].
Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

I also came across this example of an Onigawara (鬼瓦, lit. “ogre tile”). They are a type of ornamentation often found at Buddhist temples — generally roof tiles or statues depicting a Japanese ogre (oni) or a fearsome beast. [F].
Onigawara, Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

From the corner of Bishamon-dō, we get a glimpse of the last flight of stairs leading up to the Kondō (金堂, 1934) [I].
Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

The Kondō is the Main Hall of Jingoji, and it houses the central image of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Healing. [I].
Kondo (Main Hall), Jingoji Temple, Takao, Kyoto, Japan Photo

This concludes the visit to Jingoji. In the next post, we will explore the two other temples in Kyoto’s Takao area: Saimyoji and Kozanji.

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