I like going for walks and exploring different neighbourhoods, but I often return to the same places time and again. Which often leads me to explore lesser known areas, which is how I stumbled across Kurodani Temple, just north of Heian Shrine and a bit west of the Philosopher’s Path (two areas I spend a lot of time in). I wasn’t looking for cemeteries per se, but ended up exploring three of them this day, all located on Mount Yoshida.

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Kurodani’s official name is Konkaikomyo-ji Temple, but that’s a bit of a mouthful and most locals just refer to it as Kurodani (or Kurodani-san). It was first built in 1175 CE, but has been destroyed many times, including during the Onin War (1477-1477) and most recently in 1939. The current temple building dates from 1942, although other buildings on the site are older. It’s not as iconic as some of Kyoto’s other more famous sites, but the temple grounds and buildings, up on the hill, are beautiful, and even though I was here in during peak autumn leaves season, it wasn’t terribly overcrowded with people. Best of all, just to the left and behind the main hall was the cemetery.

The cemetery was ringed with various statues sitting at the edges, close to the temple building. The further one went into the cemetery, the more average the graves became, but it was still nice to wander around. Best of all, there were a few cats that were lounging around the stones, and an orange cat was very friendly to me until he realised I had no food to give him. Oh well.


Monuments: A fair number of Buddhist statues, and some of the stones have interesting symbols on them, otherwise the cemetery is pretty standard

Grounds: It’s on a hill so there are stairs to both the temple and within the cemetery. However, there are some flat paths to get around, if needed

Visitors: The cemetery had none, even though there were quite a few people visiting the temple grounds

Photographer Notes: Fall is a great time to visit, with all the beautiful maple and gingko trees in full colour


CemeteryKonkaikomyo-ji 金戒光明寺, also known as Kurodani 黒谷

Established: Original temple established 1175 CE

Internments: Contains the remains of the Aizu-clan warriors who fought at the battle of Fushimi-Toba (Jan 1868)

Location: 121 Kurodani-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. It’s easy to walk to from Heian Shrine or the Philosopher’s Path. Alternatively, it’s a 5-minute walk from Okazaki Michi Bus Stop, if you take the Kyoto City Bus 100 from Kyoto Station.

Hours: 09:00-16:00 daily