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Toji Temple and Kyoto Imperial Palace

Visit Kyoto Imperial Palace and Toji Temple with 3D mandala and the highest pagoda in Japan

Embark on a one-day journey to Kyoto Imperial Palace and Toji Temple, where the spiritual realms of Shinto and Shingon Esoteric Buddhism traditions intertwine.  Being the capital city of Japan for over 1000 years,  offering profound insights and transformative experiences.  Kukai's legacy is here in addition to the mountaintop Koyasan. 



  • Visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace (Gosho), which used to be the residence of the Imperial family for 540 years. 

  • Appreciate the well-cared seasonal beauties of the Imperial Japanese gardens. 

  • Learn about the three Imperial Regalia, the role of the emperor, and history.

  • Explore the palace grounds and envision the courtly rituals and customs described in the Tale of Genji a masterpiece of Japanese literature written in the early 11th centries. 

  • Marveled at the highest five-story Pagoda (National Treasure), a symbol of Kyoto.

  • Immerse yourself in the cosmology of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, surrounded by 21 masterpieces of the statues of Buddhist deities in Kodo (lecture hall).

About Toji Temple, It is famous for its Five-story Pagoda (Japanese National Treasure) which is a symbol of Kyoto.  With a height of about 55 meters, it is the tallest old pagoda in Japan, though it is actually the fifth reconstruction.   Located at the South edge of the capital city, Heian-Kyo (present-day Kyoto), two temples, To-ji (East Temple ) and Sai-Ji (West Temple) were planned to be built to protect the state.   Kukai (空海: also known by the posthumous title Kobo Daishi, and as a founder of Koyasan ), a great religious leader and scholar was put in charge of Toji by the Emperor Saga.  They shared cultivation and tastes, and Emperor Saga agreed to Kukai's insistence on making Toji a fundamental studying and training center for Shingon Esoteric Buddhism.   Kukai said that Shingon Esoteric Buddhism cannot be conveyed vocally.  Therefore, usually, the mandala (in plain picture form) is an essential tool.  In order to understand the essence in a more clear, more direct, and easier way, he decided to make a multidimensional mandala with 21 Buddhist statues suitably arranged inside of  Kodo (Lecture Hall).  No building from Kukai's time survives today, but a group of statues housed in the Kodo (Lecture Hall) remains.  Many of them are Japanese National treasures.

Tour Gallery

John Gavin

Akiko Murakami's cultural tour of Kyoto was a captivating exploration, seamlessly blending historical depth and local insights, as her expertise and warmth brought the ancient city's traditions and landmarks to life.

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