Located in Uji, Kyoto, Byodoin Temple (平等院) is one of the famous world heritage that you should definitely visit when traveling in Kyoto. It was built in 1052 by Fujiwara no Yorimichi; this place was given to him by his father as a villa and he rebuilt it for his Buddhism beliefs.
To access this place, you can take any JR Nara line from Kyoto station to Uji station (3 stops, approx. 18 min). From Uji station it is an easy walk of 10 to 12 minutes before you enter the area of Byodoin.
You will be able to see the name of Byodoin (平等院) written on an upright stone (on the right of the photo), you will walk down a nice pavement before seeing the main building.
Around Mid April to early May, you can also see some lovely Japanese wisteria (Fuji) on the way.
After walking for a few minutes, you’ll finally see the famous main building / central hall: Hoo-do (Phoenix Hall, 鳳凰堂). To pronounce it properly, you’ll have to separate the two “o” after H. It will be pronounced as Ho-O-Dou.
On the roof of the central hall, you can find two Ho-o, meaning phoenix in Japanese, glittering in gold.
The other reason why this building became to be called Hoo-do is because of its layout, the halls looking like a phoenix with wings and tail.
To enter the Hoo-do, you will have to buy the tickets and request for an entrance time, there is a limited number of people (50 people) that can be inside the central hall at one time.
At the entrance of the Byodoin temple, you will pay an entrance fee first, then after entering the area of the central hall, you will have to purchase another ticket for the entrance of the Hoo-do; you will find the counter on the right hand side of the Hoo-do.
During peak seasons / times, you may even wait up to 2 – 3 hours before entering Hoo-do, so we recommend going earlier in the morning, and once entering the central hall area, head to the ticket counter right away before starting to take photos or enjoying the magnificent view.
Photos are not allowed inside the Hoo-do, but it was a fabulous experience to see the beautiful statues of Buddhas. It is amazing how the people were able to create all of these almost 1000 years ago.
The central hall houses the Amida Buddha, because Fujiwara no Yorimichi believes that he could go to the Western Paradise.
This famous World Heritage is also on the back of every 10 yen coin in Japan.
Even though the other buildings that used to make up the compound were burnt down during a civil war in 1336, but the main hall was able to remain.
In the grounds of Byodoin, you can also find other smaller tmeples behind Hoo-do.
Behind the left side of Hoo-do, you can also find a Byodoin Museum Hoshokan (鳳翔館).
From the photo, you can tell that the entrance may be a bit difficult to find, but with this entrance, it brings a special atmosphere.
At this museum, you can learn about the history of this world heritage and you can see the original sculptures in the show cases as well. If you think about it, it is a very special feeling to see the original statues, the statues that we see at the central hall would be there in the future for people to see as “history” as well.
There is a tea room Toka next to the museum. You can have a nice rest there while enjoying the famous green tea of Uji.
Exiting the Byodoin museum, you will see the bell tower (Shoro, 鐘楼) and you can also see more beautiful Japanese wisteria (Fuji) there.
Though Uji is a little outside of the main area of Kyoto, it is worth the short trip to visit this famous world heritage, Byodoin temple.
Information for Byodoin Temple
- 116 Uji Renge, Uji-shi, Kyoto 611-0021 Japan
- Uji station, JR Nara Line, about 10 – 12 minutes on foot
- Keihan Uji station, Keihan Uji Line, about 10 minutes on foot
- Opening hours (Open throughout the year)
- Gate opens: 08:30 – 17:30 (last admission 17:15)
Inside of Hoo-do:
- 09:30 – 16:30 (Reception from 09:10 – 16:10 ; 50 people every 20 minutes)
Byodoin Museum Hoshokan:
- 09:00 – 17:00 (last admission 16:45)
- Flowers’ blooming period
Japanese wisteria (Fuji):
- Usually starts blooming around late April and early May
- Can be enjoyed for about 2 weeks to 1 month
- Just FYI, the big wisteria tree located next to Byodoin Hoo-do is aged more than 250 years!
- Adult: 600 JPY
- Middle school & High school students: 400 JPY
- Elementary school students: 300 JPY
- To enter Hoo-do, there is a separate 300 JPY entrance fee per person
- Time needed
- About 60 minutes (including Hoo-do and museum, excluding the waiting time)
- Byodoin Temple (平等院)(Available in English, Traditional Chinese, Simplify Chinese, Korean)
- Hotels in Kyoto
- Agoda or Booking.com
- All Images: TabiScarp