Kodai-ji (高台寺)

Kodai-ji(高台寺) is a zen Buddhist temple site in the Higashiyama(東山) hills near Yasaka Shrine(八坂神社) in eastern Kyoto. It is renowned for its enduring beautiful design, impressive craftsmanship, and zen culture.

The temple’s founder, formerly called Nene(ねね), gained the noble title Kita-no-mandokoro(北政所) as her husband, Toyotomi Hideyoshi(豊臣秀吉), became a significant imperial regent. She received the highest rank of nobility by Emperor Go Yozei(後陽成天皇) himself. As was the tradition among noble ladies at the time, she became a Buddhist nun after the death of her husband.

Kita-no-mandokoro took on the dharma name Kogetsuni(湖月心公) and title Kodai-in(高台院), from which the temple’s name derives. She established the temple in 1606, which remains remarkably well-preserved although several fires have destroyed some of the original buildings.

As it stands today, the temple includes a fine temple garden(庭園), moon-viewing pavilion(觀月台), founder’s hall(開山堂), reclining dragon corridor(臥龍廊), sanctuary(霊屋), and teahouses. Kodai-ji is also famed for its fine examples of Maki-e(蒔絵), a traditional laquer technique with black and gold designs, some of which are now housed at nearby Kodai-ji Sho Museum(高台寺掌美術館) with other historic art and treasures from the temple.


The moon-viewing pavilion is set over a small pond beside the founder’s hall and surrounded by beautiful landscaping. The reclining dragon corridor behind leads to the sanctuary.

Well-preserved old woodwork decorates the temple interiors.

The mon(紋), or emblem, of the Toyotomi Clan(豊臣氏) can be seen on some of the rooftop tiles, indicating the continued loyalty towards Kodai-in’s late husband and his family.

From the temple grounds there is a great view of the surrounding area including Daiun Temple(大雲院).