Daigoji (醍醐寺) is a major temple in the valley east of Higashimaya. Like a few other places in Kyoto it is a UNESCO World Heritage. Although the temple grounds are quite large, interesting sights are limited for the photographer because Sanbo-in is a no-photo zone, and another large part of the lower part of the temple is occupied by a museum. But the Benten-do (弁天堂) alone is worth the visit.
Daigo-ji was founded in 874 by a monk who had a vision when climbing Mt Daigo (called Mt Kasatori at the time). The mountain was sacred, like many mountains in Japan, and Shobo Rigen Daishi promptly decided to carve to statue of Kannon (a Buddhist deity) and enshrine them in a temple at the summit of the mountain. The story and faith spread, and supported by successive emperors Daigo-ji's size grew with the addition of buildings in the mountain and also at its base. Like many temples in Kyoto, fire and war ravaged Daigo-ji several times (Bunmei and Onin wars). Of the original buildings, only the five story pagoda remains. Daigo-ji remained unattended for a long time, until a warlord launched its reconstruction.
Daigo-ji consists in roughly five parts: Sanbo-in (lower north), the museum (lower south), the pagoda and main hall (middle), the famous pond with the Benten-do and, further up, the higher temple area (for which you need a special ticket).
Sanbo-in in a beautiful zen garden (built around 1600), but as photos as prohibited you won't see much about it on the web. For those interested in more details about the artefacts of Daigo-ji, thousands of pieces are on display in the museum. Both Sanbo-in and the museum require a specific entrance fee.
The most popular place in Daigo-ji is the middle section with the five storey pagoda and the Benten-do. If there is one place to visit it's definitely the Benten-do, at least if the season is right (autumn and spring, as usual for Kyoto). I have not yet visited the upper section above Benten-do.
To reach Daigo-ji, go to Yamashina station from Kyoto, then down the Kyoto Subway line to "Daigo" Station. Then follow the other tourists, roughly full east. In the area you will find at least three interesting temples to complete your day trip: Bishamon-ji (毘沙門寺), north of Yamashina station, is great (and very popular!) in autumn, Kaju-ji (勧修寺) and Zuishin-in (隨心院).
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Ichigon-ji 一言寺 (970m), Zuishin-in 隨心院 (980m)
External links: Website, ウィキペディア, Wikipedia, Wikipédia, Kyoto Navi, Trip Advisor, Kyoto Design, 京都風光, Marutake, そうだ京都
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 伏見区, Fushimi-ku, Daigo-ji, 醍醐寺, temple, 寺院, 仏閣, UNESCO world heritage