Every tourist who visited Kyoto knows (or at least has seen) the 'Gion pagoda', also called 'Yasaka-no-to' (八坂の搭), but few know that there is an active temple at its foot, and rare are the ones who know you can actually enter the pagoda! It is one of the very few pagodas that you can actually enter, but unfortunately for the prospective visitor the opening schedule is rather random: it's open when... it's open. And that's it. Yes there's an official schedule at the entrance of the grounds, but of the many times I've passed in front I've only seen it open twice. Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk? :-)
Once in the pagoda you can climb to a first floor. Look up during the (steep) climb, and observe the central pillar that shoots through the floors up to the summit. This type of architecture is apparently very resistant to earthquakes, to the point where the 634m tall Skytree tower in Tokyo uses the same principle. Once on the higher floor you can see the street climbing to the pagoda through a small window. There is also a mirror placed around the central pillar 'pit' to let you look at the upper sections of the main pillar.
Nearby: Kongō-ji 金剛寺 (70m), Nene No Michi ねねの道 (110m), Ryōzen Kannon 霊山観音 (250m), Entoku-in 圓徳院 (270m), Kōdai-ji 高台寺 (280m), Daitō-in 大統院 (300m), Evening tea ceremony 冬の夜の茶会 (330m), Yasui Kompira-gū 安井金比羅宮 (360m), Reigen-in 霊源院 (370m), Daiun-in 大雲院 (410m),...
External links: ウィキペディア, Wikipédia, Kyoto Navi, Trip Advisor, Kyoto Design, 京都風光, Inside Kyoto, Marutake, そうだ京都, Satellite view, Map
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 東山, Higashiyama, Hokan-ji, 法観寺, houkan-ji, houkanji, hokanji, temple, 寺院, 仏閣, pagoda, 仏塔