Jojakkoji (常寂光寺) is a peaceful temple at the base of Arashiyama’s mountains in Kyoto, Japan. In this post, we’ll discuss whether this temple is worth your time and money, offer transportation info for getting there, and share photos of Jojakkoji Temple.
I won’t bury the lede–I love Jojakkoji Temple. If you’ve read our 1-Day Western Kyoto Itinerary, you might already know that, as I said in that walking tour that I’d sooner skip Tenryu-ji than Jojakko-ji. I mean that. Not only do I think Jojakkoji Temple is prettier, but it’s far less busy, and its slightly off the beaten path location results in only a fraction of the crowds as other popular temples in Kyoto.
The only reason we haven’t covered it in greater depth here previously is because I wanted to capture great photos of it in each of the four seasons. Jojakkoji’s chameleon-like beauty is amazing; the temple looks totally different under the white of winter snow, pink of spring blooms, green of summer moss, or fall’s fiery reds. As it’s probably going to be years before I’m satisfied with my seasonal photos of Jojakkoji, it’s probably better to just do a write-up now and go back and add more photos later…
In terms of basic planning info, Jojakkoji Temple is located along the slope of the mountains. It’s famous for its fall colors (it makes our Top 10 Fall Colors Spots in Kyoto, Japan list), and that’s the one time of year you’ll encounter any sort of crowds at Jojakkoji Temple.
Even though you won’t get the same uncrowded atmosphere, Jojakkoji Temple is absolutely worth experiencing in fall. My favorite season, though, is probably summer. The whole temple is awash with green, from the canopy of trees to the moss-covered crowd, and has a sense of vitality. In addition to that, the crowds are comparatively light.
At the other end of the spectrum, winter was far less impressive to us…but there was no snow when we visited, so everything just looked dead. I’ve seen photos of Jojakkoji Temple covered in a blanket of snow, and it looks spectacular. The normal appearance starts improving in spring, but there aren’t nearly as many cherry blossoms here as other locations in Arashiyama, so those with limited time might want to skip Jojakkoji Temple then.
The best way to get to Jojakkoji Temple is by foot: it’s around 15 minutes from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, 20 minutes from Keifuku Arashiyama Station, or 35 minutes from Hankyu Arashiyama Station. You can also get there faster via bus if you’re not going to be walking around Arashiyama or Sagano. As always, consult Google Maps for the best route from your location in Kyoto.
Admission is 400 yen, and you can expect to spend 30 minutes to an hour here, as the grounds are moderately large. You’ll definitely want to do the full ‘loop’ of the temple, as visitors who make the effort to climb the temple’s many steps to its top are rewarded with an up-close look at a beautiful pagoda, as well as a beautiful view of Arashiyama.
As we start getting into the ‘deeper cuts’ of Kyoto’s temples, I’m not so sure long posts is the way to go. While I could gush about Jojakkoji Temple for at least 2,000 words, my rambling probably wouldn’t be all that helpful for planning. To the contrary, it might be tedious if you’re trying to plan a trip to Japan and are planning on combing through 20+ different temple posts.
So, I’ll keep it short and sweet here. Jojakkoji Temple is well-worth your time and the 400 yen admission fee. Thanks to its iconic features, sprawling grounds, and tremendous scenic beauty no matter the season.
As for the rest of my potential rambling about Jojakkoji Temple’s beauty, photos speak louder than words:
Of the photos I’ve taken at Jojakkoji Temple, over half of them have been of the thatched roof Deva Gate (Nio-mon). My fixation on the Deva Gate is hardly unique; this is the oldest structure at the temple, and its image is famous in Japan. Photos of the Deva Gate under snow, under a canopy of fall colors, or overwhelmed by the vibrant summer greens exemplifies the significance of seasons in Kyoto.
Overall, Jojakkoji Temple is one of our favorite spots in Arashiyama. It’s not one of the top-tier temples in Kyoto, but it hits the sweet spot of having some interesting buildings (the pagoda is designated by Japan as an Important Cultural Property, and the thatched Nio-mon is iconic), engaging landscaping, and a lack of crowds. The best time of year to visit Jojakkoji Temple is absolutely fall when it becomes a must-do (but won’t lack crowds, consequently), but it’s beautiful year-round and a spot we highly recommend to anyone spending a day in Arashiyama–which everyone should.
If you’re planning a trip to the Japan that includes Kyoto, we recommend starting by consulting our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan to plan all aspects of our vacation. You should also check out our other posts about Japan for ideas on other places to visit!
Have you visited Kyoto’s Jojakkoji Temple? What did you think of the temple? Would you recommend it to a first-timer visiting Japan? Any thoughts or tips of your own to add? Does visiting this temple interest you? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!