Top 5 Kyoto Temples to Escape the Crowds: Part 1

Despite the tourism boom currently underway in the city there are still places we can find the peace and tranquility we imagine when thinking about Kyoto. This series of posts will focus on what I consider to be the top 5 temples where you can find solitude, re-charge your batteries and experience Kyoto the way it was meant to be experienced. You'll also have the chance to come away with some awesome shots. So, without further ado.....


Adashino Nenbutsuji

This 1200 year-old temple, located in the Arashiyama area at the Northwest edge of the city, is perched on a hill at the edge of a bamboo grove. Be prepared for a mystical experience.

FUJIFILM X-T20 1/45 second F/11.0 ISO 400 18 mm

Here you will find 8000 stone statues of Buddha, originally made as gravestones for the dead who were buried in the Adashino area between the Heian period (793-1183) and the Edo period (1615-1868).

Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1/100 second F/4.0 ISO 200 85 mm

These 8000 stones were scattered throughout the Adashino area and were covered by a bamboo grove for many years until about 100 years ago when they were gathered here. A stone pagoda and larger statue of Buddha are placed in the centre.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1/200 second F/4.0 ISO 160 200 mm

Within the precincts you'll find lush green moss also featuring stone statues. These areas are in the shade of maple trees and offer welcome relief on hot sunny days. The contrast of the green moss and the red aprons of the statues is quite stunning.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1/100 second F/1.8 ISO 160 85 mm

Scattered among the many statues you can see some sporting brand new, colourful aprons...

Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1/80 second F/7.1 ISO 400 165 mm

Others are more faded....

Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1/80 second F/4.0 ISO 400 200 mm

On late summer afternoons the temple is flooded with glorious warm light adding to the peaceful atmosphere.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1/125 second F/4.0 ISO 100 85 mm

Here, freshly fallen cherry blossom petals cover the moss.

FUJIFILM X-T20 1/180 second F/4.0 ISO 200 55 mm

Another unique feature is the Indian style gate next to the temple's treasure house.

FUJIFILM X-T20 1/30 second F/11.0 ISO 250 18 mm

There is also a bamboo grove within the precincts that unfortunately was severely damaged in a typhoon last year. The temple staff informed me that it will reopen in August.


The final image I'll leave you with is of cherry blossom petals blowing in the wind. The Japanese call this a sakura blizzard - 桜吹雪.

FUJIFILM X-T20 1/42 second F/11.0 ISO 200 36 mm

If you're visiting Kyoto, Adashino Nenbutsuji comes highly recommended.


Opening hours: 9am-4.30pm March-November 9am-3:30pm December-February

Admission: Adults: 500yen High and junior high school students: \400 Elementary school students and younger: Free

Nearest Transport: 40min walk from Arashiyama Station, Keifuku Arashiyama line


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Until next time, happy shooting.

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