Date: 21st November 2017
The first thing first-time visitors to Arashiyama want to visit? The bamboo groves. Yes, yes, the bamboo groves are lovely, but maybe without the crowd. You may want to consider (a) visiting during non-peak season, (b) visiting early morning / after sunset. Or you could visit a nearby but relatively unknown place with smaller bamboo groves. I have previously written about Adashino Nenbutsu-ji, a temple with a smaller bamboo grove (only 20 minutes away on foot from the famous bamboo grove).
Now let me introduce you to Jizō-in, also known as Take-no-tera (竹の寺), Bamboo Temple. Despite its proximity to the famous Saihoji (Kokedera / Moss Temple), this temple remains quiet and less visited.
Jizō-in was built by Hosokawa Yoriyuki back in 1367 as a temple of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. He was a Shogun’s Deputy in Kyoto during the Muromachi period (the period during the ruling of Ashikaga shogunate). The temple suffered destruction from the fires of Ōnin war (like much of Kyoto), and was only rebuilt during the Edo period.
The hon-do (main hall) houses the Jizo Bosatsu, as the name of the temple suggests.
There is a Kaifuku Inari Daimyojin Shrine on the right of the main hall, said to bring good luck.
Further into the temple, past the Chu-mon, is the Hojo and a karesansui garden (dry landscape garden), called the 16 Rakan’s Garden. There is no Rakan statues in the gardens, but 16 stones that looks like a Rakan. Photography is prohibited in the Hojo and of the garden, but you can check this site for pictures taken on a day where photography was exceptionally allowed.
Aside from its bamboo groves, the temple also boasts moss on most of its grounds and beautiful autumn foliage.
I was happy I made this side-trip before going to the crowded area of Arashiyama (Togetsukyo etc.). It was a hidden gem, perfect for some serene moments, highly recommended to those looking for a less crowded spot in crowded Kyoto.
For directions, for now, I recommend not using Google Maps, it will bring you to the sides / back of the temple, not the entry. The easiest way to get to the temple is by getting to the Kokedera Temple, Suzumushidera Temple Bus Stop (bus no. 73), and from there follow the sign leading up a staircase. You can check this site out for pictures of the directions. It is also possible to walk from Matsuo Taisha station on the Hankyu Arashiyama line (15-20 minutes). I walked from the train station, but thanks to Google, I could not find the temple and had to ask the residents around for directions. Google was not that far off, but still.
Entrance fee: 500 yen
Opening hours: 9.00 – 16:30 (last entry @ 16:15)