Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

After leaving Tofukuji Temple I rode a pair of buses up to the northern part of Kyoto and got off at Ninnaji Temple. First completed in the year 888, Ninnaji is a prominent temple of Shingon Buddhism and up until 1869 a member of Japan’s Imperial Family would serve here as the temple’s high priest.

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

The first part of Ninnaji that I visited was Goten, where the temple’s high priest used to live. Since the high priest was part of the Imperial Family, the Goten unsurprisingly looks and feels like a royal palace, with beautiful rooms within and elegant gardens without. A few sections of the Goten were covered in scaffolding when I was there but most of it was still open for visitors.

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

One of the rooms inside the Goten was dedicated to drawings that children had made of the thousand-hand bodhisattva.

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Around the rear of the Goten is the North Garden. You can’t see it in the photos because of the scaffolding, but there’s actually a carefully sculpted rock garden that leads from the temple buildings up to the little bridge over the pond.

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Japan Kyoto Ninnaji Temple

Having seen the Goten, I spent the remainder of my time at Ninnaji wandering around the temple grounds. A few monks were walking to and from various parts of the temple and most were in plain attire but one of them had a vibrant purple outfit. I wonder if maybe he was the high priest at the time. Ninnaji Temple has unfortunately been a victim of several wars and fires over the centuries and none of its original structures have survived, but in the 1600s most of what we see today was reconstructed.

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