Northern Higashiyama

The charmingly intimate temple of Manshu-in, which served as a retreat for former emperors, is a great place to escape the crowds that descend on other Kyoto temples. The temple was originally founded by Saichō on Hiei-zan but was relocated here at the beginning of the Edo period by Ryōshōhō, the son of Prince Hachijōnomiya Tomohito (who built Katsura Rikyū).

The graceful temple architecture is often compared with Kyoto's famed Katsura Rikyū Detached Palace for its detailed woodwork and rare works of art, such as fusuma-e sliding doors painted by Kanō Eitoku, a famed artist of the Momoyama period. The kare-sansui garden by Kobori Enshū features a sea of gravel intended to symbolise the flow of a waterfall and stone islands representing cranes and turtles.

A visit to Manshu-in can be paired with a trip to nearby Shisen-dō, a charming small temple in the area.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Higashiyama attractions

1. Enkō-ji

0.39 MILES

It might be best known for its autumn maple leaves, but this small temple is well worth a visit any time of the year. It has two stunning gardens – the…

2. Shūgaku-in Rikyū Imperial Villa


One of the highlights of northeast Kyoto, this superb imperial villa was designed as a lavish summer retreat for the imperial family. Its gardens, with…

3. Shisen-dō

0.48 MILES

A highlight of the far northern Higashiyama area, Shisen-dō (House of Poet-Hermits) was built in 1641 by Ishikawa Jōzan, a scholar of Chinese classics and…

4. Takara-ga-ike-kōen

1.36 MILES

This expansive park is an excellent place for a stroll or picnic in natural surroundings. Far from the throngs in the city centre, it is a popular place…

5. Ginkaku-ji


Home to a sumptuous garden and elegant structures, Ginkaku-ji is one of Kyoto's premier sites. The temple started its life in 1482 as a retirement villa…

7. Hōnen-in

1.69 MILES

Founded in 1680 to honour the priest Hōnen, this is a lovely, secluded temple with carefully raked gardens set back in the woods. The temple buildings…

8. Shimogamo-jinja

1.82 MILES

This shrine, dating from the 8th century, is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is nestled in the fork of the Kamo-gawa and Takano-gawa, and is approached…