Hokyo-ji 宝鏡寺 is a special temple, not only because you can only visit it a few weeks per year, or that you can't really take pictures, or that that few people know about it at all. No, it's special because it is a temple with one uncommon artistic theme: Japanese dolls! And more specifically the kyoto-style variety (京人形). OK, you will also see traditional Japanese umbrellas drying in the front yard, but the real thing here are the dolls. In fact, the nickname of the temple is Ningyo-ji 人形寺, which means the "Doll temple".
Anyway, a visit to this temple is a must for anyone interested in this form of Japanse art: they have many old, unique and amazing pieces on display. Japanese dolls come in many shapes and form, but also sizes. The dolls can be almost microscopic or life-size, and yet they all boost an amazing level of worksmanship. This means you will want to take pictures of them, but of course you can'. Except you can, in one specific "photo room" where they have prepared one doll for you to shoot. Very, very clever. This way your photographer's needs will be fulfilled and you won't disturb the other exhibits. Great success!
I'm not sure quite how this temple got involved with dolls in the first place, but from what I remember from the exaplantions (in Japanese!), dolls, and more generally toys, were brought to the temple to be blessed. And they still are brought en-masse today as the huge toy-filled plastic bag brought by the person in front of me at the temple proves.
While you're in the area, you can also give a try to Myoren-ji 妙蓮寺 and Honpo-ji 本法寺 or simply stroll in the nearby streets which have a few interesting traditional Kyoto houses (called kyomachiya 京町家).
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Honpō-ji 本法寺 (170m), Myōken-ji 妙顕寺 (210m), Myōren-ji 妙蓮寺 (270m), Fujita House 藤田家住宅 (280m), Ikutanike Jūtaku 生谷家住宅 (560m), Uhō-in 雨宝院 (590m), Honryū-ji 本隆寺 (620m), Jisho-in 慈照院 (660m), Seimei Jinja 晴明神社 (690m), Jiun-in 慈雲院 (710m),...
External links: Website, ウィキペディア, Kyoto Navi, Kyoto Design, 京都風光, Marutake, そうだ京都, Satellite view, Map
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 中京, 下京, 上京, 宝鏡寺, Hokyo-ji, temple, 寺院, 仏閣
Photos of Hōkyō-ji:
- id: 306, 4 photos (3 extra photos can be found in the archive).