Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, is a city heaving with history, culture, and tradition. With so many beautiful temples and shrines to visit, it can be difficult to decide which ones to prioritize during your trip. One temple that does not place very high on lists is Otani Sobyo. While it may not be the largest or the most decadent, it has its charms. One such charm is actually that this is a temple and mausoleum, which is a rarer find in Kyoto.
Located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, Otani Sobyo was founded in 1922 by the 22nd Monshu of the Jodo Shinshu sect, Rennyo Shonin. Despite its relative youth compared to many of Kyoto’s other temples, Otani Sobyo is a beautiful and serene place that offers a glimpse into the world of Japanese Buddhism.
One of the most striking features of Otani Sobyo is its massive entrance gate. The gate features intricate carvings and paintings. This gate leads visitors to the temple’s main hall. Above this (and up even more stairs) sits the Otani Mausoleum. This mausoleum is the final resting place of Rennyo Shonin. It is one of the most important sites in the Jodo Shinshu sect.
From this mausoleum, you can also see out over the skyline of Kyoto. With its proximity to other temples such as Ryozen Kannon and Chion-in, this isn’t anything to sneeze at.
In addition to its main attractions, Otani Sobyo also hosts an annual memorial service on the third Sunday of February. During this service, visitors can participate in the chanting of sutras and offer incense to honour departed loved ones.
Another great feature is the lack of tourists, foreigners or otherwise. Primarily locals are the only ones who go to this shrine, so it is perfect to get away from the crowds while still experiencing a temple in Kyoto.
Overall, Otani Sobyo is a hidden gem in Kyoto that is definitely worth a visit. With its beautiful architecture and a great view, the temple offers a unique and unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression on visitors.
Getting to Otani Sobyo
Otani Sobyo is located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, which is easily accessible by public transportation. Visitors can take one of several buses that go to the “Gion” bus stop. From Kyoto station, the main bus on this route is 206. It will take approximately 25 minutes to complete.
Alternatively, visitors can take the Kyoto City Subway to the Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Line and walk about 10 minutes to the temple. The temple is also within walking distance of other popular attractions in the Higashiyama district, such as Kiyomizu-dera temple and Yasaka Shrine.
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