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The Omuro cherries in full bloom, Ninnaji Temple in April

Ninna-ji (仁和寺) is the head temple of the Omuro school of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. It is located in western Kyoto, near Ryoanji and Kinkakuji.  We usually visit all three temples on the same day.

Ninna-Ji Temple

 

 

Ninna-Ji was founded in the early Heian period by the retired Emperor Uda. It is part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

After retiring from his throne, Emperor Uda became the first Monzeki, or aristocratic priest, of Ninna-ji. From then on until the end of the Edo period, the temple saw a succession of head priests of imperial lineage.  In 1467, the temple was destroyed by fire and fighting in the Ōnin War. It was rebuilt roughly 150 year later, thanks to the eldest son of Emperor Go-Yōzei, Kakushin Hosshinnō, who enlisted the help of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. The resurrection coincided with the rebuilding of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto and thus received imperial funding.

Most of the surviving buildings date from the 17th century, and include a five-story pagoda and an orchard of dwarf cherry trees. The temple itself features some beautifully painted screen walls, and a beautiful walled garden.

Ninna-Ji Temple
Ninna-Ji Temple

 

The famous Omuro-Zakura cherries in full bloom, Ninna-Ji
In late April, the temple is very crowded with people enjoying its famous grove of short, late blooming Omuro-zakura cherry trees.  This is probably the last place in Kyoto where cherries bloom.

 

This is a beautiful temple, well worth visiting any time of the year.  Of course, the main “attraction” is the famous Omuro-zakura cheeries grove, which offer a truly wonderful sight when in full bloom, in late April.  But the temple is also wonderful to visit in Autumn, when you can enjoy its beautiful garden without many other tourists.

The garden of Ninna-Ji temple in Autumn

 

The painted doors of the Ninna-ji temple
The painted doors of the Ninna-ji temple

And the painted doors (fusuma) are also truly amazing.

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