Nison-in Temple

Kyoto Temples, Nison-in Temple, Kyoto 二尊院

Nisonin Temple is a small hillside Tendai-sect temple about 15 minutes walk north up from Tenryuji Temple and 10 minutes or less south from Gioji Temple, north of the stations in Arashiyama, in the Sagano district of Kyoto.

Nisonin Temple is most worth visiting in June for its hydrangeas (ajisai) and in fall for its spectacular fiery-colored foliage which can be admired walking down the avenue to the main gate.

Nisonin Temple, Arashiyma, Kyoto.
Nisonin Temple, Sagano, Arashiyama, Kyoto; Tetsuji Sakakibara; Some Rights Reserved
Nisonin Temple, Arashiyma, Kyoto.
Nisonin Temple, Sagano, Arashiyama, Kyoto; Tetsuji Sakakibara; Some Rights Reserved

Nison-in originally dates from the mid-9th century. Its name means "two revered images" in Japanese, referring to the twin Heian Period Buddhist statues in the main temple hall, of Shaka Nyorai and Amitabha Tathagata: namely the historical Buddha, Gautama and the Buddha of the Pure Land.

The temple's buildings were destroyed in the Onin War (1467-77) but were rebuilt with the support of the priest Honen.

History buffs will be interested in the temple's cemetery, in which are interred the ashes of many emperors and nobles.

Nison-in was one of a quartet of temples in Kyoto that administered Buddhist ceremonies for the Imperial court before the Emperor left for Edo (Tokyo) in 1868, at the beginning of the Meiji Period of Japanese history.

Nison-in is also the temple where the poet Teika (1162-1241) completed the immortal collection Hyakunin-Isshu(百人一首, One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets).

In May, Nison-in hosts a festival of a re-creation of a Heian period card game played by women in costume.

Nisonin Access - how to get to Nisonin Temple

From JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, which can be reached from Kyoto Station, Nisonin Temple is a 10-minute walk.

Also from Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Line, allow 10 minutes. From Hankyu Arashiyama Station, it takes around 30 minutes.

By bus take Kyoto city bus #11 from Shijo Kawaramachi Station for about 50 minutes and get off at Saga Elementary School. From here it is about 7 minutes on foot.

From Shijo Omiya take a Kyoto city bus #91 for 30 minutes and get off at the Saga Shakadomae stop and walk 15 minutes.

The #28 bus from Kyoto Station will take 45 minutes depending on traffic and also stops at Hankyu Arashiyama Station. From here it is a further 10 minutes on the bus to the Saga Shakadomae stop.

Nison-in Temple is about 10 minutes on foot from Gioji Temple.

Nisonin Temple
27 Saganisonin-monzen-cho-jincho
Kyoto 616-8435
Tel: 075 861 0867

Hours: 9am-4.30pm
Admission fees: Adults: 500 yen

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