Tofukuji, established in 1236, is the oldest Buddhist temple in Kyoto and the head temple of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. It is the largest and oldest temple complex in Japan.
Shorinji was founded as a sub-temple of Tofukuji in 1550 at the request of Kogaku Reisho, the 205th head priest of Tofukuji. Situated northeast of Tofukuji, an inauspicious direction, the temple is known as Bishomonten, after the guardian of the north and Buddhism. Among the temple’s many treasures are the standing statue of Bishamonten – the temple’s main statue closed to the public – and the large, powerful, sliding-door painting of tigers. Shorinji welcomes all visitors and offers experiences in zazen, and copying sutras and Buddhist images (reservations required). The gardens bloom with flowers year round. The cherry blossoms liven the grounds in spring, and the changing colors set them ablaze in the fall.
Train: 8-minute walk from JR Tofukuji Station on the Nara Line or Keihan Tofukuji Station
Bus: City Bus nos. 202, 207 or 208, alight at Tofukuji bus stop