Strolling down the narrow streets leading to the temple known as Toji, you can get a sense of what it was like to be a citizen of Kyoto hundreds of years ago. The graceful lines of its famed five-story pagoda rise above the rooftops around it to create a striking view.
To-ji is accessible on foot or by train from Kyoto City.
From Kyoto Station, walk 15 minutes southwest to Toji. You can take the Kintetsu Kyoto Line to Toji Station, and walk five minutes to the temple.
Toji translates to English as East Temple
The temple dates back to 796
Once you've seen the view you will understand why it has become the symbol of Kyoto. Standing 55 meters high, it is the highest wooden building in Japan.
The temple dates back to 796, but the pagoda has been damaged several times, and the current structure was built in 1644. Kodo Hall, in the center of the grounds, houses 21 Buddhist statues that are among the oldest in Japan.
Toji hosts a massive flea market on the 21st of each month. Over 1,000 stalls selling food, antiques, handcrafted goods and much more cover the temple grounds. The flea market starts early, at five a.m., and ends at four p.m.
Toji is especially popular in the spring because it's said to be one of the best cherry blossom sites in the area. The temple also hosts illumination events during this season to showcase the beauty of these flowers against the night sky.