Treasure spot of To-ji limited items! New item I found inside the temple
Text: Emi Sakamoto / Photo: Kaina Honma
Toji is known for the highest five-storied pagoda in Japan. When emperor Kanmu moved the capital from Nara to Kyoto, he built To-ji (east temple) and Sai-ji (west temple) at the east and west gateways of the capital. Despite Kyoto having many temples today, these are the only two that had been built at the time of Kyoto's transformation as a capital. To-ji is known as the first mystic Buddhist sanctuary that was opened by Master Kukai. Not only the 55 meter high five-storied pagoda, but also 21 statues inside the temple are also a valuable watch.
Visitors usually access the To-ji through East gate from Kintetsu Railway Toji Station. My recommendation is to walk from JR Kyoto Station's Hachijo Exit. A classic shopping street to the west of Hachijo-dori Street will be a fun walk around. 21st day of every month is a market day to commemorate the death of Kukai. There will be shops selling pottery, kimono, food and many more items from early morning till early evening.
The Kushige Koji path from Kitasomon outer gate to the Kitadaimon inner gate is the only path left in the original size from Heian period.
There are two small lecture hall at the south of Jikido. Each enshrines statues of yashagami. Male statue in East Hall, female in the West Hall. The myths of Kukai is believed that whoever paid a visit will be able to cure toothache.
There is a ticket office and shop near the yahsagami-do hall. This is like a treasure box of many to-ji limited items, sweets, green tea, snacks, pickles, etc. Many well known makers in Kyoto sales their products with To-ji limited package design. My favorite was Buddha's poster and To-ji rice flour waffle that has a cute package.
Although many gate-side shops are generally old with long history, this waffle shop just opened in 2012.
Toshio Fujie, the producer, explains about the waffle, 'rice is also called 'shari', which has the same sound as Buddha's remaining bone. The five-storied pagoda is where this bone is buried. Therefor, the rice 'shari' flour and temple's 'shari' is a good match. I'm selling this waffle hoping that people can take back this little story to enjoy as well'.
Fujie was born in To-ji community and lived here for 65 years paying humble visits to Kukai all his life. Rice flour waffle comes in 2 tastes, plain and green tea, each 200 yen. He only makes 20 to put in enough care in making them. Ingredients are selected from the local community. Rice flour is from Zushikokufun, a highly trusted flour in the industry, Uji green tea is from Ozawa Seifuuen that has a shop nearby the East gate. 'I seek for advices from the local professionals to brush up my skill in making good waffle' says Fujie.
Green tea flavor has a great aroma of the tea. This is one of my favorite green tea sweets in Kyoto.
The current package has been renewed 2 years ago. The drawing of 'Okome nyorai sama' was created with a motif of Dainichi Nyorai. He changes the drawing seasonally to offer more fun for repeating customers.
ADDRESS: 1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto
OPEN: 3/20-9/19 8：30-17：00 (last admission), 9/20-3/19 8：30-16：00 (last admission)
FEE: 500 yen for general admission