Koetsuji Temple

Japan Temples & Shrines: Koetsuji Temple, Kyoto

Koetsuji Temple 光悦寺

Koetsuji is a Nichiren Buddhist temple in the Takagamine district of north west Kyoto, close to Genko-an Temple, one of the so-called "Bloody Ceiling Temples" of Kyoto and Joshoji Temple, known for its associations with the Edo Period courtesan, Yoshino Tayu II (吉野太夫).

Koetsuji Temple, Takagamine, Kyoto, Japan.
Koetsuji Temple with so-called Koetsu-gaki or gagyu-gaki bamboo fence, Takagamine, Kyoto
Koetsuji Temple, Takagamine, Kyoto, Japan.
Koetsuji Temple, Takagamine, Kyoto

History of Koetsuji

The whole area of Takagamine was given by the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa to the artist Honami Koetsu (1558-1637), who constructed an artist's colony here and invited many of his friends and family to come and live.

Koetsu was a master of many arts including sword polishing, calligraphy, ceramics, lacquer and the Japanese tea ceremony. Indeed, Koetsu is considered one of the three master calligraphers of the Kan-ei era (1624-1644) along with Konoe Nobutaka and Shokado Shojo.

Koetsu's interest in the tea ceremony is reflected in the layout of Koetsuji Temple, which rather than containing religious halls consists instead of a number of tea houses (seven in total) set in a strolling tea garden.

Koetsu was not a follower of one school of tea but studied with teachers from various schools including Furuta Oribe and Oda Urakusai, a brother of Oda Nobunaga.

The Taikyo-an tea house dates from 1915 and was built as a replica of the tea house where Koetsu spent his last days. It consists of a classic 4.5 tatami room with tokonoma and clay floor. Other tea houses in the temple grounds include: Ryojakuken, Tokuyu-an, Honami-an, Daikyo-an and Kigyu-an. The grounds have a number of elegant stone lanterns and bamboo fences named after the great man.

After Koetsu's death in 1637, the land became a Nichiren Temple which contains the grave of Koetsu and several of his family.

Koetsuji Temple is well-known for its lovely garden which is particularly popular during the autumn leaf viewing season in Kyoto and for its cherry blossoms as is nearby Genko-an. At the end of the garden there are views down over Kyoto city.

Koetsuji Temple, Kyoto, Japan.
Fall Colors, Koetsuji Temple, Takagamine, Kyoto
Koetsuji Temple, Kyoto, Japan.
Koetsu's Grave, Koetsuji Temple, Takagamine, Kyoto

Koetsuji Access - how to get to Koetsuji in Kyoto

29 Takagamine Koetsu-cho
Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8466
Tel: 075 491 1392
Hours: 8am-5pm; No admission from November 10 to 13
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.

Koetsuji Temple, Takagamine, Kyoto, Japan.
Koetsuji Temple, Takagamine, Kyoto

Nearby Koetsuji

Koetsuji 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. Koetsuji is very close to Genko-an Temple and Joshoji.

Close by is the Ryokan Nenrinbo if you wish to stay in this quiet, rather out-of-the way part of Kyoto.

Koetsuji Temple, Kyoto, Japan.
View of Kyoto from Koetsuji Temple, Takagamine

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