Toji means Eastern Temple, and this temple in Kyoto has a very long history that dates back all the way to the 8th century. Nowadays, it is especially known for its tall pagoda and the monthly antique market.
History of Toji Temple
The religious foundations of Kyoto were laid here, and Buddha has protected the city from where Kukai founded the temple since 796. Kukai, also known as Kobo Daishi, made Toji the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism. The sect’s esoteric rituals depended heavily on the mandalas. In the Kodo, there are 21 statues that form a three-dimensional mandala. In the center of this is Dainichinyorai, the cosmic Buddha who first enunciated the esoteric teachings. Each of these, and other images about 1,200 years old, are carved in a unique block of wood.
Five Storied Pagoda and Antique Market
The great Toji pagoda is Japan’s tallest wooden structure – 55m – and a symbol of Kyoto. It was rebuilt in 1644. Inside are images of four Buddhas and their followers. Kukai’s death is commemorated on the 21st of each month in the precinct with an antique market that the locals call Kobo-san. Many shoppers also take some time to make the short pilgrimage to Miei-do where they make offerings of money and incense.
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Access: From Toji (Kintetsu Line) or Kyoto (JR Line) station, or Toji-Higashimon-Mae, Toji-Minamimon-Mae, Toji-Nishimon-Mae, or the Kujo-Omiya bus stop
Free entrance to the precinct (You need to buy tickets to enter Main Hall, Five Storied Pagoda, etc)
From 5 am to 5 pm