Ryuhon-ji is a good example of a temple that was not made for tourists, nor cares about them. The temple is away from the main spots of Kyoto, and its buildings and zen garden are only open a few weeks per year. The rest of the time the gates to its expansive grounds remain wide open during daytime and children come here to escape their parents' minuscule apartment. Old people also gather here, or simply use the property as a short-cut.
The temple was built in 1321, burned down or moved a few times, and finally reached its present location in 1708. The garden itself is more recent (1850), but its style is not my style: too "messy", not enough structure or purpose and, well, not a good light when I visited ;-) One of the interesting treasures of this temple is a couple of painted partitions which, from a distance, look like every one of those. But they're only two colours (silver/gold on dark blue) which is slightly unusual. Coming closer reveals their secret: every single line of the drawing is in fact writing! I forgot exactly what the content was, probably sutras. But anyway it's an impressive piece of work.
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Yusei-ji 宥清寺 (190m), Jōfuku-ji 浄福寺 (510m), Jizō-in 地蔵院 (600m), Kitano Tenman-gū 北野天満宮 (730m), Daihōon-ji 大報恩寺 (730m), Daruma-dera 達磨寺 (770m), Shakuzo-ji 石像寺 (930m), Hirano-jinja 平野神社 (970m), Honryū-ji 本隆寺 (1km), Uhō-in 雨宝院 (1.1km),...
External links: 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, 立本寺, Ryuhon-ji, temple, 寺院, 仏閣