Historically, the head priests of Shoren-in Temple were members of Japan’s imperial family. In fact, a 12th-century emperor built the temple originally as a residence for his son to study alongside a prominent priest of the time. The temple’s stately pedigree matches the allure of its tranquil natural surroundings. Shoren-in Temple rests at the foot of Kyoto’s Higashiyama mountains. Standing outside of the main temple building, trees tower above, and the wooded forest encircles the entire complex.
Shoren-in Temple is known for being quiet and peaceful, a respite from hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors are invited to walk through the rooms of the temple. These include a drawing room, where the main attraction is intricately painted fusuma, or traditional sliding doors. The drawing room opens to a pond, where visitors often go to meditate. The main hall is the primary place of worship. Outside of the temple are several walking paths. Some circle a garden, while another leads up to a teahouse.
Shoren-in Temple is located in Kyoto’s Higashiyama District near Chion-in Temple. It’s easily accessible by a short walk from Higashiyama Station on the Tazai Subway Line. The temple is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. There is a 500 yen ($5 USD) entry fee. The most popular time to visit is during the spring and autumn, when the temple illuminates the gardens, showcasing the brilliant foliage colors.