Why do temples in Kyoto close in the late afternoon time

When you go to Kyoto trip, the receptionist may be closed despite the bright time yet.

Examples of the reception end time.

  • Eikando (永観堂) reception is until 4 PM.
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所) is until 4 PM.
  • Nijo Castle (二条城) is until 4 PM.
  • Daigoji temple (醍醐寺) is until 4:30 PM.
  • Toji temple (東寺) is until 4:30 PM.
  • Ryoanji temple (龍安寺) is until 5 PM.
  • Kinkakuji temple (金閣寺) is until 5 PM.

Depending on the season the reception end time will change by about 1 hour.Basically, however, famous temples and sightseeing places in Kyoto are closed at 5 pm. (Most of the temples in Kyoto are closed early at 16:00, at the latest at 17:00 at the latest. As an exception, some temples such as Kiyomizudera are closed at 18:00, but they will close on time.)

Even if you are looking forward to the Kyoto trip, you will be disappointed if the sightseeing spot is still closed at a bright time.

Why tourist attractions of Kyoto wonder close early the gates. Japanese Buddhist monk answers.

To get straight to the point, the reason is that the closing and opening time is in accordance with the tradition.

The gate of the temple closes though it is bright.

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In old times, 4 pm was the sunset

How do you divide the time of the one day in your country? Perhaps 24 division of every hour would be basic. Contemporary Japan also divides the time of the one day into 24 pieces. 

However, historically there are times when it was divided into 12 following the japanese zodiac.  It came to be used from Muromachi era 600 years ago. The afternoon at around 4 PM is referred to as Saru no Koku (申の刻), it was the end of the daytime. And around 6PM is referred to as Tori no Koku (酉の刻), it was set as a dim time when the sun had set.

This is because the rising and falling sun of the sun was the standard of day and night in the era without electricity.

The Japanese of the ancient times finished work as a life rhythm around 4 PM and returned to home at 6 PM.

And there is another important division method. It is a method of dividing the time of the one day into 6 pieces. This is the idea of the Buddhist Pure Land thought, it comes from the fact that chanting the sutra 6 times a day. According to it, it is considered to be a sunset around 4 PM and it will be the end of the day.

You may think that the daytime is short, but at 4 o’clock in the morning is the start of the day instead. This is the reason why the monks’ morning is early. This Buddhist time division method has been from Heian era around 800 years ago.

From the ancient times, Buddhist temple was time to close the gate after 4 PM. The time after that is already night.

Historic sightseeing spots and Buddhist temples in Kyoto are closed from 4 PM to 5 PM as there is a way of thinking of time since ancient times.

Moreover, there are many buildings which are national treasures or important cultural assets, and one of the reasons is that the administrator can not give lighting equipment arbitrarily.

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Let’s check the reception hours when traveling in Japan

The temple in Kyoto is not a recreational facility and public park. There is a history of Buddhism, a place of people’s faith.

Of course, there are some trainee monks who are disciplining buddhism at that temple. As a result, there are times when we are doing Buddhist events, so tourists can not enter.

On the other hand, there are sightseeing spots that are opening the gate from 6 o’clock in the morning because the monk’s morning is early. (For example, it is Honganji Temple and Kiyomizu Temple)

Furthermore, there is a special viewing at night (until 10 PM) during the beautiful spring of cherry blossoms, beautiful fall of autumn leaves.

The historic building in Kyoto has its reception time changed greatly according to the season.

So to avoid missing the precious opportunity, let’s check the time in advance.

For example, a web site such as the following would be helpful. KYOTO CITY OFFICIAL TRAVEL GUIDE  (recommend)

Let’s be careful as time changes easily at the turn of the season. Enjoy your trip to Japan.

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