Kozan-ji Temple was established at the beginning of the 13th century, when the monk Myoe restored a mountain temple and gave it its present name. The original residence of Myoe's time is still here.

Also called as "Toganoo-san", the temple belongs to the Shingon school of Japanese Buddhism and is dedicated to Shaka Nyorai Buddha.


Tradition has it that Kozan-ji was founded by the order of the Emperor Konin (709-782) in 774, at which time the temple was named Shingan-ji Togaobo. It is said that the name was changed to Kozan-ji after the temple was revived by priest Myoe (1173-1232) as a training hall for reviving the Kegon school of Buddhism by the order of the retired Emperor Gotoba (1180-1239) in 1206.

Kozan-ji holds a large number of treasures, including about 10,000 Important Cultural Assets as well as eight National Treasures such as the "Choju Jinbutsu Giga", a series of animal caricatures said to have been drawn by Toba Sojo (1053-1140), a painting called "Myoe Shonin Jujo Zazen-zu" and Sekisui-in building.

Priest Myoe was given a few seeds of tea plant by Zen master Eisai (1141-1215) and planted them in the temple's grounds at the beginning of the Kamakura Period (1192-1333), launching the spread of tea cultivation throughout the country. In recognition of this history, tea producers from Uji make an offering of new tea in front of the temple's Shoninbyo mausoleum each year on November 8.

What to see

Kozan-ji Temple stands in a mountain forest. Towering cedar trees line the path to the temple and admit shafts of sunlight to the moss-covered ground. A quiet and secluded place, Kozan-ji’s charm lies in its atmosphere. You can sit on the temple’s verandah overlooking the Kiyotaki-gawa river valley, admire the scenery of green hills, listen to the forest sounds, and easily imagine yourself back to the 13th century and the time of the temple’s founding.

In the spacious precinct of Kozan-ji is the Butto (a pagoda built for the purpose of Buddhist worship), designated as an Important Cultural Property. Among the treasures housed here is the Choju-Jinbutsu-giga, a set of four picture scrolls (a form of ancient Japanese scroll painting) dating from around the 10th and 11th centuries. This set of picture scrolls is designated as a National Treasure. The original is currently stored in Tokyo National Museum. On exhibit at Sekisui-in are precise replicas of the original.

The Temple of Emperor Gotoba, the precincts, lush with ancient cedar and maple trees, are themselves designated as a national historic site. It contains the oldest tea field in Japan, where Myoe is said to have planted tea from seeds brought back from China by the Zen priest Eisai. 

The simple appearance, with its thatched-roof and shingles, is representative of the residential style of the Kamakura Period.

Kozan-ji is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.


  • Kyoto Travel Guide

    • Address

      8 Togano-o-cho, Umegahata, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City.
      Tel: 075-861-4204

By Bus
Take a JR bus from Kyoto Station. It takes about an hour. Intermediate stops include Shijo-Omiya, Ryoan-ji-mae, Takao and Makinoo.

9:00am - 5:00pm.

600 yen for Sekisui-in. Additional 400 yen to enter the precinct during the season of autumn leaves.