The beginnings of ancient Kyoto can be traced back to Seiryuden Temple, located on Mt. Higashiyama in eastern Kyoto. According to legend, Emperor Kammu visited this spot in the mid-eighth century and was impressed by the panoramic views it offered. It was here that he decided to build his new capital, which would later become known as Kyoto. Today, Seiryuden Temple remains a hidden gem, with its sprawling observation deck providing unrivaled views of the city.
One of the highlights of visiting Seiryuden Temple is the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of Kyoto. From the observation deck, visitors can see the city spread out before them, with its countless temples, shrines, and traditional buildings. The view is especially breathtaking during sunrise and sunset, when the colors of the sky blend with the cityscape. It is a truly magical sight and a perfect way to start or end a day in Kyoto.
Another must-see attraction near Seiryuden Temple is Shorenin Temple, particularly during the fall season. The temple is known for its beautiful gardens, which come alive with vibrant autumn foliage. The colors of the maple trees create a stunning contrast against the traditional architecture of the temple buildings. Walking through the peaceful gardens of Shorenin Temple is a serene experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.
To reach Seiryuden Temple, the best option is to take the local subway or a taxi from Kyoto Station. The temple is located in the northeast part of central Kyoto, near Shogunzuka. If you choose to visit Shogunzuka, the quickest way to reach it is by taxi. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes from Kyoto Station or five minutes from Keage Station on the subway Tozai Line. Alternatively, there is a trail that leads to Shogunzuka from the back of Chionin Temple, next to Shorenin. The hike takes about 30 minutes and is mostly uphill.
Seiryuden Temple and Dainichido Temple are both part of Shorenin Temple, which is located at the foot of the mountain. The name Shogunzuka refers to a two-meter-high mound that was built by Emperor Kammu himself. The mound is said to contain a statue buried by the emperor, complete with armor, an iron bow and arrows, and swords of a warrior. It was meant to protect the city and its people.
The autumn season is a highlight of the calendar in Kyoto, and it is the best time to visit Shogunzuka and Seiryuden Temple. The surrounding hillsides come alive with vibrant colors as the maple trees change their leaves. It is a sight that attracts visitors from all over the world, who come to witness the beauty of nature in its full glory. During this time, Shorenin Temple holds its annual special night sound and light shows, which add to the enchantment of the season.
Inside Seiryuden Temple, visitors will find the enshrined Fudo Myo-o, a revered Buddhist deity. The deity is depicted against a background of flames, symbolizing the power to burn away ignorance and lead to enlightenment. A thousand-year-old silk painting of Fudo Myo-o is on display at the temple and has been designated a National Treasure. Visitors can also purchase various Fudo Myo-o souvenirs and participate in a monthly homa, a consecrated fire ritual, where they can write their special wishes on paper strips that are burned.
Aside from its observation deck and main hall, Seiryuden Temple also offers small but charming gardens for visitors to explore. The gardens are especially beautiful during the autumn season, when the maple trees are in full bloom. At night, the gardens are illuminated, creating a magical atmosphere that transports visitors to a different world. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
While visiting Shogunzuka and Seiryuden Temple, it is also worth exploring the other historic temples and shrines in the area. One such place is Yasaka Shrine, which faces Shijo Street. From there, visitors can continue their journey through Maruyama Park to Chionin and Shorenin temples before reaching Shogunzuka. Chionin Temple is currently undergoing renovations until 2019, but visitors can still admire its impressive Sanmon Gate and temple bell, which is the largest in japan. The trailhead to Shogunzuka can be found behind the temple bell, making it a convenient starting point for hikers.
In conclusion, Seiryuden Temple and Shogunzuka offer a unique glimpse into the beginnings of ancient Kyoto. The panoramic views from the observation deck, the serene gardens, and the rich history of the area make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city. Whether it is the stunning autumn foliage, the enshrined Buddhist deity, or the peaceful atmosphere, there is something for everyone to enjoy. A visit to Seiryuden Temple and Shogunzuka is a journey back in time and an opportunity to experience the beauty and charm of ancient Kyoto.
Address And Maps Location:
28 Zushiokukacho-cho, Yamashina-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu