Seiryo-ji Temple

Seiryo-ji Temple © Iry

About Seiryo-ji Temple

Seiryo-ji temple is a Jodo temple known as the Saga-no-shaka-do (Saga’s Temple of Shaka). The main idol of worship here is a Shaka Nyorai-ritsuzo statue (standing Shaka Nyorai image) brought back from China by the priest Chonen in the year 987, which serves as where the temple gets of Saga-no-shaka-do. The standing Shaka image here is a national treasure, and inside of the statue are scriptures made out of silk shaped like internal organs, documents, and coins. Seiryo-ji was originally a mountain villa for Toru of Minamoto, who is said to have served as the model for the famous Tale of Genji’s main character, Genji. After Toru’s death the monk Chonen drew up the plans for the temple. After Chonen’s death, his son Seisan carried out his dying wish to complete the temple.

The main hall was reconstructed in 1701 by the 5th generation Edo shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi and his mother Keishoin, and the main idol and a Jizo Bosatsu ritzu-zo image were placed here. The main hall’s dry landscape garden was built by the famous gardener Kobori Enshu. In addition to this, in spring and fall you can see the Amida Sanzon-zo (3 Amidas), Judai-deshi-zo (10 disciples of the Buddha), Shitenno-ritsu-zo  (Standing 4 Heavenly Kings) and various other images at the Reihokan treasure hall. The open times are in April, May, October and November, from 9:00 to 17:00. At the same time, the main hall and the garden’s opening hours are also extended to 17:00. There is a common admission ticket for 700 yen that will let you see the Reihokan, main hall, and the garden.

The Saga Dai Nenbutsu Kyogen

Every April at Seiryo-ji the nationally designated important intangible cultural property "Saga Dai Nenbutsu Kyogen" is performed. This was started in the Kamakura Period by the Buddhist monk Enkaku(1185–1333) as a prayer for him to be able to see his mother again. Normally, kyogens have dialogue and songs, but the Saga Dai Nenbutsu Kyogen has absolutely no dialogue, and instead they are done to the sounds of musical instruments such as bells, taiko drums, and flutes. In March the Saga-O-Dai-Matsushiki is carried out, which is when 7m tall torches are lit up, and the torches’ strength is an omen for how good or bad the crop harvest that year will be.


On the Keifuku train, go to Arashiyama Station (嵐山駅) and from there you can walk there in 15 minutes. By bus you can take the Kyoto bus, city bus to Saga-shakado-mae stop (嵯峨釈迦堂前) and from there it’s a 1 minute walk. Nearby is the Old Saga Imperial Palace (Daikakuji) so it’s recommended you see both if you are touring the area.

Image Gallery: Seiryo-ji Temple

Description: Seiryo-ji Temple

Sights Seiryo-ji Temple (清凉寺)
Address 46 Sagashakadōfujinokichō, Ukyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu
Phone / Fax Phone: 075-861-0343 / Fax: 075-861-0310
Duration 30Minutes
Business Hours Monday:09:00-16:00
Admission Fee Pay admission: 400yen
Recommended Season
Spring (March - May)
Summer (June - August) Autumn (September - November) Winter (December - February)
Recommended target Family Couples Groups Infant & Toddler (ages 0-6) Child (ages 7-17) Adult (ages 20+) Single traveller

Map: Seiryo-ji Temple