Japan Temples & Shrines: Joshoji Temple, Kyoto
Joshoji Temple 常照寺
Joshoji was founded in 1616 in the early part of the Edo Period by Jakushoin Nichiken Shonin.
The temple had many more buildings than can be seen today and was home to several hundred scholar monks.
Joshoji is associated with the Edo Period courtesan, Yoshino Tayu II (吉野太夫), who was famed for her beauty and grace. According to the stories, she either eloped with her lover, the merchant Haiya Joeki (灰屋紹益 - also spelled Haiya Shoeki), or he paid for her to be released from her Shimabara tea house. A devout follower of Nichiren Buddhism, Yoshino Tayu is said to have helped finance the beautiful, once vermillion gate at the entrance to the temple, known as Yoshino-mon in her honor.
Yoshino Tayu died at the young age of only 38 and her grave, marked by a tall, stone pillar, is in the temple along with that of her partner Haiya Joeki.
Josho-ji Temple holds a memorial service for Yoshino Tayu on the second Sunday in April every year. This consists of a procession of tayu (of which there are only a handful left in Kyoto now) adorned in gorgeous kimono, followed by an open-air tea ceremony performed by the tayu and a flower arranging (ikebana) exhibition staged within the temple grounds.
Nowadays, visitors can view a video on the life of Yoshino Tayu and for an extra charge enjoy a macha green tea and traditional sweet in the temple.
Joshoji Access - how to get to Joshoji in Kyoto
Joshoji (in Japanese)
1 Kitatakagamine-cho, Takagamine
Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8468
Tel: 075 492 6775
Admission: 300 yen.
From Kyoto Station take a Kyoto subway to Kitaoji Station and then a #Kita 1 (北1) Kyoto bus from Kitaoji Bus Terminal and get off at Takagaminegenkoan-mae bus stop. From here the temple is a two-minute walk. Alternatively, take a #6 bus from Nijo Station and Shijo Omiya. There is a hiking path through the mountains to this area from near Kinkakuji Temple.
Joshoji Temple is in a fairly remote area of north west Kyoto, north of both Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) and Imamiya Shrine and south of Shodenji Temple. Joshoji is very close to Genko-an Temple and Koetsuji.
Close by is the Ryokan Nenrinbo if you wish to stay in this quiet, rather out-of-the way part of Kyoto.