Toji Temple: Viewing the cherry blossoms at night

In a previous post, I wrote about visiting Toji temple in 2022 when I first came to Kyoto. At that time it was May and the cherry blossoms were long past. This year during a two-week break, I was able to spend part of it in Kyoto during the cherry blossom season.

Blooming of the cherry blossoms

I wrote last time about the gardens surrounding the temple and how it has the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan. This time, not only was I able to see the cherry blossoms, but the temple also hosts an illumination event at night from mid-March to mid-April. The pagoda and the gardens are really in the spotlight (literally) of this event.

The combination of the temple lit up, the trees and blossoms in the spotlights and the contrast with the dark sky creates for an amazing landscape. The best part: the event is not usually advertised in English, so tourists rarely know anything about it. As a result, there are usually only Japanese people and it is seldom crowded. The perfect recipe for a beautiful experience in the heart of Kyoto.

Here is the result:

Visiting Toji Temple at night

The illumination starts runs from 18:30 to 21:30. To get in, you need to buy a ticket at the entrance, which costs ¥1,000. However, in addition to the illumination, you can still enter the buildings you would usually be able to enter except for the pavilion itself.

You can find more information about the illumination (updated every year) here (in Japanese).

Toji Temple is very easy to reach from Kyoto station. You can either walk (14 minutes) or take the Kintestu-Kyoto train line one stop to Toji station (approximately 1 minute) and then walk for 6 minutes. Alternatively, buses 71 and 78 also go near the temple, stopping at Kujo Omiya and Toji Minamimon mae bus stops respectively. The train journey will cost you ¥160. The bus journey will cost ¥230 regardless of the route.

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