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].
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].
The stone steps next to the hotel mark the beginning of the steep ascent to Jingoji Temple [I].
About halfway along the approach to Jingoji, one passes this small noodle restaurant [F], …
…, 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].
Passing through the Rōmon, the visitor arrives on the temple’s beautiful and spacious premises [F].
The historic structures on the site include the oldest surviving building called Daishi-dō (大師堂) [F], …
… 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].
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].
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].
The Kondō is the Main Hall of Jingoji, and it houses the central image of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Healing. [I].
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.