Destination: 金福寺 Konpuku-ji

Impression: Konpuku-ji is one of the small, hidden treasures of the Ichijōji area. Following the winding back roads of the neighborhood, it's easy to miss, marked only by a large stone and some groomed pine trees. 

The temple complex itself is very small, with one main building and then a traditional thatched roof cottage further up the hill. There is a veranda at the main temple that overlooks a small rock garden and a lush overhang of maple trees. Photos show that the temple would be best viewed in late November, to see the red maples of Kyoto. 

The cottage on the hill was very charming in my opinion, and I was surprised to learn that it was the site of one of the houses that the famous haiku poet Bashō used while traveling in Kyoto composing. Of course, it is not the very same cottage, as it fell into disrepair long ago, but it is modeled after the very same house. I enjoyed being able to walk right up to the cottage and get a nice look at the thatched roof style, and also the simplistic design of a Japanese rustic cottage. There is also a spot on the trail between the cottage and the graveyard where a pleasant view of Kyoto can be gleaned.

Best Season: Fall

History: Konpuku-ji is part of the Rinzai sect of Japanese Buddhism. Its principal deity for worship is Aryavalokitesvara, a manifestation of Avalokiteśvara (or in Chinese, Guānyīn). It's a bit to the south of Shisendō, and is where the great artist and poet Buson's grave is as well. Matsuo Bashō stayed at this temple in a cottage while he was sojourning in Kyoto writing poems. Buson was a great admirer and follower of Bashō, and upon finding the old site of the cottage where Bashō stayed, he erected Bashō-an, a replica of the retreat Bashō had stayed in.

The temple was founded in 864 by a priest named Jikaku. it was the great spiritual teacher Ennin's dying wish that Aryavalokitesvara be enshrined there. Ennin is an important figure to temples in this area, and is most well known for becoming the head monk at Enryaku-ji between the period of 854 to 864, when he died. When the temple was first built, it was actually part of the Tendai school, but fell into ruination in the 1600s. Later, the priest Tesshū revived it and it was converted into a Rinzai school for the Nanzen-ji branch of the sect. Shortly after, Tesshū's close friend Bashō visited the temple and stayed in the small cottage that would later be the site of Bashō-an. The site was revived by Buson in 1776, under support by the then head monk of the temple, Shoso. Buson and his disciples were all put to rest on the premises, in a small graveyard to the side of Bashō-an in a grove of cedar trees. 

20 Saikata-chō, Ichijōji, Kyōto

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Hours & Admission: 
Closed: 12/30~12/31, 1/16~1/31, 8/5~8/20

400 yen


(Please view the rest of these photos on my Flickr Stream!)