9 Instagrammable Shrines and Temples in Kyoto

Kyoto’s tourist attractions are shrines and temples with a sense of Japanese history. Some of them have become popular through social networking services, and there are many gorgeous and colorful shrines and temples that you will not find anywhere else. This article introduces shrines and temples that make you want to go out of your way to take pictures! Please take a look at them as a reference for your trip.

To learn more about Kyoto, click here.


Yasaka Koshindo (八坂庚申堂)

Yasaka Koshindo, located near Yasaka-no-to, has become a popular photo spot for women in recent years. Although its official name is “Kongoji Koshindo,” it is nicknamed “Yasaka no Koshin-san” by the locals.

The reason this spot has become so popular is the colorful “kukurizaru” that are attached to the vermilion hall in bells. The kukurizaru is said to represent a monkey stuck in a position where its arms and legs are bound together. It is said that it symbolizes a state in which the mind is well controlled, and if you make a wish on the kukuri monkey and hold back one of your desires, your wish will come true.

Among the many spots in Kyoto, this is by far the most popular. The cloth kukurizaru were originally made from old kimono, so they go perfectly with kimonos!

Shoujuin Temple(正寿院)

Shojuin Temple in Ujitawara-cho is located in a peaceful natural setting. It is famous for the lovely heart-shaped window in the guest hall, a photo spot where the view through the window changes with the changing of the seasons.

In fact, this heart-shaped window is one of the traditional Japanese patterns called Inome. This pattern has been used to decorate temples and shrines for about 1,400 years.

wind chime festival

The “wind chime festival” is held from June to September at Shoju-in Temple, where it is relatively cool even in summer, and over 2,000 wind chimes play cool sounds. Some of the wind chimes are decorated with flowers such as hydrangeas and sunflowers, making it a perfect spot for taking pictures in yukata (light cotton kimono).

Kawai Shrine(河合神社)

Kawai Shrine(河合神社)

Kawai Shrine is located in the Tadasunomori forest of Shimogamo Shrine, one of Kyoto’s representative shrines. Ema is a type of votive tablet used at shrines and temples, but the “Kagami-Ema” at Kawai Shrine is very unique.

This unusual Ema is a hand-mirror-shaped votive tablet with a picture of a face on it, on which visitors apply their own makeup using their own cosmetics. It is said to bring blessings to make one beautiful not only on the outside but also on the inside.

Rurikoin temple(瑠璃光院)

Rurikoin temple(瑠璃光院)

The temple is located at the foot of Mount Hiei. Rurikoin is normally closed to the public, but visitors can enter the temple grounds only during special viewing periods held in spring, summer, and fall.

Rurikoin Autumn

From the Lapis Lazuli Garden (Ruri-no-niwa) covered with moss all over the place to the elegant shoin, you can feel the beauty of Japan in every detail. The lush green foliage of spring and summer are great, but the autumn foliage is especially breathtaking.

Rurikoin Temple is about a 12-minute walk from Yase-Hieizanguchi Station on the Eizan Electric Railway main line. For information on special viewing periods and reservations, please visit the official website.

Official website:

Yanagiya Kannonx Yokoku-ji Temple(柳谷観音 楊谷寺)

Yokoku-ji Temple Hana-chozu

The temple has been worshipped by many people, including emperors, since the Heian period (794-1192) as a temple that cures eye diseases. Currently, “Hana-chozu” ,in which the hand-watering basin is decorated with flowers of the four seasons, has become popular through social networking services.

In June, “Hydrangea Week” is held, during which approximately 5,000 hydrangeas, the largest number in Kyoto, are in full bloom. There are also hands-on classes such as pressed flower making and sutra copying, allowing visitors to enjoy a variety of activities.

Please take a look at official Instagram page to see colorful photos of nature, including Hana-chozu.

Official Instagram:

Official website:

Okazaki Shrine (岡崎神社)

Okazaki Shrine main hall and a stone statue of a rabbit

Located near Heian-jingu Shrine, Okazaki Shrine is one of the shrines built to protect Heian-kyo. In recent years, the shrine has become the talk of the town as a rabbit-filled shrine. The shrine grounds are filled with rabbits anyway! The lanterns in the shrine are painted with rabbits, the stone statues in the shrine are also rabbits…you will encounter a lot of rabbits anyway.

Okazaki Shrine (岡崎神社)
Rabbit pottery with a omikuji inside

The “Usagi-mikuji” (rabbit omikuji) is a representative of the cute rabbits of Okazaki Shrine. The ceramic rabbit contains a omikuji, and you can take the rabbit home along with the omikuji. The round shape of the rabbit is very cute and makes a perfect memento of your trip!

Incidentally, Okazaki Shrine is named after a rabbit known for its fertility, and is believed to bring blessings for child bearing, safe childbirth, matchmaking, and warding off bad luck.

Shorinji Temple(勝林寺)

Shorinji Temple, Hana-chozu

Shorinji Temple is one of the sub-temple of Tofukuji Temple, famous for its autumn foliage. It was once known as a temple where visitors can experience Zen meditation, sutra and Buddha copying, etc., but its colorful Hana-chozu has become a hot topic of conversation, attracting visitors of all ages.

Zazen experience Image

Zen meditation, sutra and Buddha copying require advance registration, but are held daily and can be experienced at any time. Zazen is recommended for elementary school students and beginners as lectures are given in detail.

Flowers for the Hana-chozu are changed regularly and are posted on the official Instagram page each time. Seasonal flowers and dolls are also displayed, so you can enjoy a different Hana-chozu each time.

Official website:

Official Instagram:

Zuishin-i Temple(随心院)

Title: Gokusaishiki-umeiro-komachi-ezu(極彩色梅匂小町絵図)

This temple is associated with Ono no Komachi, one of the three most beautiful women in the world. It is also known for its plum blossoms, and in late March, a traditional dance called “Hanezu Odori” is performed.


The highlight is the “Gokusaishiki-umeiro-komachi-ezu,” a sliding door (Fusuma) painting that looks like a work of art displayed in the hall’s “No-no-ma”. The life of Ono no Komachi is depicted on four sides, together with scenes of the Hanezu dance. Every March, the No-no-ma room is decorated with colorful fresh flowers in the “Hana-no-ma”, which allows visitors to enjoy a more luxurious space.

Official website:

Genkoan Temple (源光庵)

Genkoan Temple Window of Realization (Satori no mado)

The official name of the temple is Yohozan Hojurin Genko-an. The temple offers atmospheric views throughout the four seasons, but it is especially popular during the autumn foliage season.

The symbol of Genkoan Temple is the circular window in the main hall. This is called the “Window of Realization (Satori no mado),” and the circular shape represents the spirit of Zen (to discipline oneself, appreciate all things, and reconsider one’s way of life).

The view through the window changes with the changing of the seasons. It is lush green in the fresh green season, fiery red in the fall, and white in the winter when it is covered with snow.

Official website:

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