Ninnaji temple, the center of the Omuro sect of Shingon Buddhism in Kyoto is famous over hundred others thanks to its massive structure which is said to house more than 60 sub-temples once in the past. Even the temple was destroyed several times by fires, it was recovered after each time, remaining the impressively gorgeous scale. Here inside Ninaji precinct you can find anything of a traditional temple in Japan, from a massive gate, a tall pagoda of several stories, splendid halls to lavish gardens with ponds, bridges and rocks of various shapes. It is said that the temple will easily take several hours from your busy day to explore its ground hiding a huge number of cultural artifacts. Ninnaji is also a destination for those who unfortunately miss the regular cherry blossom season. The late beauty of cherry blossom here is a little more elegant and charming than in other places around the city.
Originally, Ninnaji temple served as a summer residence for the Imperial Family, at that time called Omuro Palace. Then in 886, Ninnaji temple was constructed by the Emperor Koko and took two years to be completed. Initially, the head priest of Ninnaji was the Emperor Uda then the position was moved to his son. This gradually became a tradition of the temple until the Imperial Family moved to Tokyo in 1869, even named Monzeki in which a member of the Imperial family takes the responsibility as the head of an important temple. From the grandiose structure of about 60 sub-temples, Ninnaji suffered significantly by fires with almost all the temple buildings now date back to the 17th century.
The grandiosity of Ninnaji temple is expressed right in the impressive architecture of the temple gates, including the mountain gate Sanmon and the entrance gate Chumon. Sanmon is a giant gate with sophisticated wooden carvings while Chumon is guarded by two fierce Nio statues. There are several important buildings consisting of Kondo with an golden image of Amitabha, Scipture Hall in the east and Miedo in the west. An other gorgeous building at Ninnaji is Omuro Palace, also called Goten, a combination of three separate establishments of the main residence, White Study and Black Study. Ninnaji gets its own museum called Reihokan housing an impressive collection of Buddhist treasures from Buddhist statues, textiles and calligraphy scrolls.
Like some other outstanding temples around Kyoto, Ninnaji has a 5 storied pagoda of about 33 meters built in 1637. The image of the pagoda top standing silently by the late blooming cherry blossom has long become the symbol of the temple. Around the temple precinct, you can find out about 200 cherry trees called Omuro Zakura which will fully flourish in the end of April, over the fading season of other spots. People also enjoy the short hike through a hill behind Ninnaji temple which will take only one hour to complete.