Destination: 北山別院 Kitayama Betsuin

Impression: Kitayama Betsuin had been something of an enigma to me ever since I moved to the area, and I just so happened to pass by it one day when it was finally open. The temple is located directly across from a kindergarten, so does not have much of an all-around aesthetic, yet its great carved doors and bell are quite gorgeous. Similar, giant iron bells and carved wooden doors are plentiful around Kyoto, of course, but they are still quite lovely. The temple does not have a garden and can be perused in about five minutes. Kitayama Betsuin is one of those temples that seems like it is still very much in use, giving it an air of 'private' and less of the touristy vibe you get from most other hot spots in Kyoto. I felt uncomfortable stepping in without having someone to introduce me on-hand.

If you do visit, the one place to not be missed is the old stone well to the left of the temple. There is a small path that will lead you to a tiny, gated garden. The well is unlike any other I have seen in Kyoto, The well is in fact placed in the side of a hill, so you have to stoop down and in to actually access the water. In all honesty, it felt a bit like a horror movie, but I'm still glad I went.  

Best Season: Spring

History: Hongwanji Kitayama Betsuin is a historical site where Shinran Shonin rested for water during a 100-day pilgrimage from Mt. Hiei to Rokkakudo Temple. He undertook this pilgrimage to better understand the methods and efforts he would need in order to obtain enlightenment. He was the founder of the Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism.

29 Yakushidōchō, Ichijōji, Kyōto

Hours & Admission:
Hours not listed.Free Admission


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