Shogunzuka Seiryuden Temple 将軍塚青龍殿
The beginnings of ancient Kyoto
According to legend, Seiryuden Temple, perched upon Mt. Higashiyama in eastern Kyoto, is where the story of this ancient city began.
With the completion of the sprawling observation deck in 2015, this relatively unknown spot offers unrivaled panoramic views. It is no surprise that Emperor Kammu came to this very location in the mid-eighth century to inspect the site for his proposed new capital. Satisfied by what he saw, Kammu ordered Kyoto's construction in 794.
- Panoramic views of Kyoto
- Shoren-in Temple, especially in the fall
- Peaceful gardens
How to Get There
The temple is best accessed by local subway, or by taxi from Kyoto Station .
Shogunzuka and Shoren-in Temple are in the northeast part of central Kyoto. The quickest way to access to Shogunzuka is to take a taxi. It is approximately 20 minutes from Kyoto Station , or five minutes from Keage Station on the subway Tozai Line.
You can access a trail from the back of Chion-in Temple (next to Shoren-in), and the mostly uphill hike takes about an hour.
Seiryuden Temple and Dainichi-do Temple are both part of Shoren-in Temple at the foot of the mountain
The name Shogunzuka refers to a two-meter-high mound built by Emperor Kammu himself
A transparent glass tea house built by Japanese architect Tokujin Yoshioka attracted worldwide attention
A highlight of the autumn calendar
The best time of year to visit Shogunzuka and Seiryuden Temple is in November, especially to view the stunning autumn foliage on the surrounding hillsides. November is also when Shoren-in Temple holds its annual special night sound and light shows. Shoren-in Temple, a 13th-century Tendai Buddhist temple known for its gardens, is also well worth a visit.
Emperor Kammu buried a statue in Shogunzuka complete with armor, an iron bow and arrows and swords of a warrior to protect the city.
Flaming national treasure
Seiryuden Temple itself enshrines Fudo Myo-o, the revered yet fearsome Buddhist deity, portrayed against a background of flames. A thousand-year-old silk painting of the god on display here has been designated a National Treasure. You can find various Fudo Myo-o souvenirs on sale, and write your special wishes on paper strips that are burned in an annual ceremony.
Besides the observation deck and large main hall, Seiryuden offers small but charming gardens for strolling. The maples here are glorious in November, when they are lit up at night.
Other places to explore around Shogunzuka
On your way to Shogunzuka, why not visit some other historic temples and shrines in the area? You could start at the Yasaka Shrine complex facing Shijo Street, then continue through Maruyama Park to Chion-in and Shoren-in temples before heading to Shogunzuka.
The main hall of Chion-in Temple is undergoing renovations until 2019, but the Sanmon gate and temple bell (the largest in Japan) are both impressive sights. If you are hiking to Shogunzuka, you can find the trailhead behind this bell.