The pagoda at To-ji is the most viewed temple in Kyoto. Not only because it is almost 55 metres high, making it the tallest wooden tower in Japan… but because it is easily seen from the bullet train.
The pagoda can be seen from the shinkansen when arriving at or departing from Kyoto. Look out the left window when heading toward Osaka, or the right window when approaching Kyoto Station from Osaka.
The former name describes the function of this temple: The Temple for the Defense of the Nation by Means of the King of Doctrines 「Kyō-ō-gokoku-ji 教王護国寺」. The temple was built by order of the Emperor in the late 700s, when Kyoto was called Heian-kyō. The temple formed part of large gate that guarded the south entrance to the ancient capital.
In Japanese, pagoda is gojūnotō 「五重塔」 and literally translates to five-storied pagoda. Another gojūnotō is located at Daigo-ji, also a World Heritage site in Kyoto.
How to get to To-ji
- To-ji, along with Hongan-ji are the closest World Heritage sites to Kyoto station. To-ji is a 15-20 minute walk from Kyoto Station.
- By bus from the To-ji-higashimon-mae stop, directly across the road from the temple, it’s a 1 minute walk.
- By train from Toji Station, it’s a 5 minute walk.
- Alternatively, the temple is an easy ride if you want to hire a bicycle in Kyoto.
For opening hours and admission fees, see the Official Kyoto Travel Guide to To-ji.