Bishamon-do, a tasteful temple where monks from noble families presided

Bishamon-do is a Tendai Buddhist temple which is said to be founded in 703 as Izumo-ji by legendary priest Gyoki (668 – 749) at the request of Emperor Monmu (683 – 707.)

It almost went defunct a few times, but in the 17th century, it was revived by a powerful monk called Tenkai (1536 – 1643), who was an adviser of Tokugawa shoguns.

The reconstruction of the temple was completed in 1665, and since then, the head monks of this temple were assumed by those from the imperial or aristocratic families.


Since they employed many servants and samurai, the temple grounds are spacious. The principal image of the temple is Bishamonten. Bishamonten, also known as Tamonten, is a Buddhist divinity which is deemed to be the guardian of the northern direction. It is also worshipped as a deity of fortune, longevity, victory, etc. in Japan.


Though there are no buildings designated as an Important Cultural Property by the state, nine constructions created in the Edo period are listed as cultural assets by the city government. Fusuma (sliding door) paintings in Shinden are reverse perspective painting famous as “moving pictures.” There’s also an elegant stroll garden named Bansuien which is particularly beautiful in fall.


Where to eat around Bishamon-do

Brighton Kitchen

Brighton Kitchen is a restaurant at Hotel Brighton City Kyoto Yamashina. For lunch, other than the main dish using meat or fish, more than 20 kinds of dishes along with desserts are offered in buffet-style. As for dinner, it’s also in buffet-style but more gorgeous.


Switzerland Rhone

Switzerland Rhone, a cake shop which is an 8-min walk from Yamashina Station, is known for its cheese cake. The second floor is a neat cafe, and you can enjoy the sweets fresh from oven here.


Where to stay around Bishamon-do

Kyoto Century Hotel

Kyoto Century Hotel is a hotel adjoining JR Kyoto Station. It offers various types of guest rooms, and all rooms are furnished with high-quality beds.

In this hotel, there are two restaurants serving dishes based on French, one offering teppanyaki, one which serves traditional Kyoto cuisines, a bar, and a cake shop.

For breakfast, we would like to recommend Kyoto-style French toast which is made of soy milk, pickles, bacon and cheese. If you want to have a sandwich, you can choose the type of bread and filling you like.


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