Just north of Kurodani lies another temple famous for it’s autumn leaves: Shinnyo-do Temple. This is another temple that most tourists seem to miss, which is a shame, since the grounds are beautiful, especially in mid- to late-November when the leaves are at their peak. In fact, this entire neighbourhood is fascinating to walk around, as there are a lot of interesting buildings and little gardens that one can explore.
Of course, there is a cemetery here, but for once it actually took a backseat to exploring the temple grounds. As a photographer this was a real treat and I regret that I didn’t have a proper camera with me, only my iPhone. But having something is better than nothing, and I’m happy enough with the photos I took here. I’ll have to come back with my camera and better lenses to really explore this place fully.
When I was finally able to tear myself away from the beautiful photo ops the temple grounds provided, I explored the cemetery just to the right of the main hall. It’s a large rectangular area that basically rings one entire side of the temple complex. There were some interesting tombs here. I was particularly interested in a small pyramid of old gravestones that were at the back edge of the cemetery. I’m not sure what it was meant to represent, other than perhaps a way to deal with old (abandoned?) gravestones. Unfortunately some ground maintenance prevented me from fully exploring the area fully.
Overall this was a lovely place to visit, and one I’m sure I’ll come back to again.
Monuments: A few statues, lots of lichen-covered stones, and some interesting (newer) gravesites. It’s pretty crowded but easy to walk around.
Grounds: The cemetery here is on flat ground and well-maintained, but some of the inner paths are a little narrow and not as easily navigated. It’s pretty open so in the summer time be sure to have a hat or umbrella to protect your head.
Visitors: There were a few people in the cemetery, but most of the crowds were on the temple grounds, rightly so.
Photographer notes: Again, this is a beautiful location to visit in the fall, although there are no trees in the cemetery proper.
Cemetery: Shinnyodō Temple (真如堂)
Established: 984 CE, but like many other temples, was destroyed during the Onin Wars. Re-established on Mount Yoshida in 1693.
Location: It’s a five-minute walk from Kurodani, and about 20 minutes from Ginkakuji. You can take bus #5 from Kyoto station at Shinnyodo-mae stop (about 35 minutes + 5 minutes walking).
Hours: 09:00-16:00 daily. The grounds are free but you can pay to see the inner rooms and gardens of the main temple (500 yen) if you wish.