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.