Koho-an
Photo: Okada Katsutoshi, courtesy of Kyoto Shunji

You can go inside Kyoto's Koho-an Temple for the first time in 7 years this spring

The secluded temple will be welcoming visitors – but only for a limited time

Emma Steen
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Emma Steen
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While there are hundreds of temples scattered across Kyoto, not all of them are open for public viewing in the same way as famous places like Kinkaku-ji or Kiyomizu-dera. Koho-an, a sub-temple of the vast Rinzai Buddhist Daitoku-ji Temple complex, is one such site that rarely allows visitors. This spring, however, the temple will temporarily open its grounds to the public for the first time in seven years.

Koho-an Kyoto
Photo: Kyoto Shunju

Koho-an was designed by the 17th century magistrate Kobori Enshu, who is occasionally referred to as the Leonardo da Vinci of Japan due to his mastery of architecture, the art of landscaping and the Japanese tea ceremony. Because of this, the temple is particularly treasured for its scenic inner gardens and Bosen teahouse, which were built together to create an image of a boat floating on the nearby Lake Biwa.

Koho-an
Photo: Kyoto Shunji

From May 24 until June 12, visitors will not only be able to view the temple’s revered teahouse and gardens, but also a rare ink wash painting by Kano Tan’yu, who was the Tokugawa Shogunate’s first official painter.

Koho-an
Photo: Kyoto Shunji

Given that this is an opportunity that comes around only a handful of times in a decade, it’s worth planning a trip to Kyoto to coincide with this public viewing. The temple will be open from 9.30am daily, with the last entry at 4pm. Bookings aren't required unless you're in a group of ten or more. There’s an admission fee of ​​¥1,000 for adults and ¥500 for students, but elementary school children or younger can enter for free.

For more information, visit the event website.

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