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The Hydrangeas of Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple): Video Introduction

This video, titled "Hydrangea and Yanagidanikannon Youkoku-ji Temple"(【京都の紫陽花】柳谷観音(楊谷寺):hydrangea and Yanagidanikannon Youkoku-ji Temple/花手水)) was uploaded by "Kawaii Kyoto."

Located deep in the mountains, approximately 10 minutes from the city center of Nagaokakyo in Kyoto via car, sits Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), a temple with a variety of interesting sights throughout the year.

A temizuya or chozuya is a basin at a temple or shrine where water is available for washing and purifying the hands and mouth before visiting the temple or shrine. It is often located alongside the approach to the temple/shrine. Yokokuji Temple is said to be the birthplace of hanachozu (花手水), which are chozuya filled with flowers.

During hydrangea week, the temple grounds are filled with colorful hydrangeas. The color of hydrangeas, a cool light blue, is said to refresh the body and mind and relieve stress.

Enjoy the beautiful images of Yokokuji Temple to the sound of birds chirping, along with the flower pots, the hydrangeas blooming on the temple grounds, and the lush greenery of the garden.

Introduction to Yokokuji Temple, Kyoto, One of the Most Famous Ancient Temples in Japan

Image of Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), Kyoto
Photo:Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), Kyoto

Located in Nagaokakyo, Kyoto, Yokokuji Temple is an ancient temple that was opened in the early Heian Period (794 - 1185 AD). The principal deity is the eleven-faced, thousand-armed, thousand-eyed Kannon (Goddess of Mercy), who is said to cure people of eye diseases. The temple is open to the public on the 17th of every month, so be sure to remember that if you're planning on stopping by for a visit.

The temple is also home to a spring water called "Okouzui," which is believed to be a holy water for healing eye diseases, and attracts many visitors.

The Seasonal Faces of the Flower Pots at Yokokuji Temple

Image of hanachozu at Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), Kyoto
Photo:Hanachozu at Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), Kyoto

Yokokuji Temple, rich in natural beauty, offers different views in each season. These include Hydrangea Week from early June to early July, when the hydrangeas are at their best, and Momiji Week from mid-November to mid-December, when the autumn leaves are at their best.

The hanachozu (the water basins filled with flowers) are highly popular on Japanese social media. In addition to the hydrangeas, there are cherry blossoms in spring, sunflowers and dahlias in summer, and colorful autumn leaves in the fall, all of which can be seen decorating the flower pots in their respective season.

Be sure to check out the official Instagram page for Yokokuji Temple (@yanagidanikannon) to see the seasonal flowers floating in the flower basins.

In the summer of 2022, the temple grounds were also decorated with pinwheels and wind chimes.

Hydrangea Week at Yokokuji Temple

Image of hydrangeas at Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), Kyoto
Photo:Hydrangeas at Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), Kyoto

Hydrangea Week at Yokokuji Temple is usually held around early June to early July, the best time to view the hydrangeas. The official website confirms that the hydrangeas will be in full bloom on June 23 in 2023.

There are approximately 5,000 hydrangeas at Yokokuji Temple, making it the largest hydrangea temple in Kyoto. If you're thinking about visiting during the full bloom period, be sure to check the official website or Instagram to see the blooming conditions before you visit.

Moreover, crowds can be expected during the Hydrangea Festival and Momiji Week. There are several parking lots available, but please note that the parking lots in front of the gate fill up quickly during the high season.

Hands-on Classes at Yokokuji Temple

Yanagidani Kannon/Yokokuji Temple also offers a variety of hands-on classes. In addition to seal making using pressed flowers, which is held on the 17th of every month, bead bracelet making and other classes are held occasionally as well. If you're interested, be sure to follow their social media accounts to find out when these classes are held. They also have a variety of regular classes as well.

Colorful Autumn Leaves at Yokokuji Temple

Image of autumn leaves in a hanachozu at Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), Kyoto
Photo:Autumn leaves in a hanachozu at Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple), Kyoto

In autumn, Yokokuji Temple is actually a great spot for viewing the autumn foliage. The entire mountain is beautifully colored and you can enjoy the autumn leaves from the temple precincts. The best time to view the autumn leaves is from November to mid-December. In 2022, the best time to view the leaves was in late November, so you can expect the same in 2023. It's a lesser-known tourist attraction, so it's possible to avoid the crowds here to a degree in a relaxed and quiet atmosphere. The inner shrine approach and Ganriki Inari (眼力稲荷) shrine area of the precincts of the temple, as well as Kamishoin (上書院) and Meisho Garden (名勝庭園, Meisho Teien), which is open to the public only on the 17th of each month, are also highlights of the autumn foliage season.
During Momiji Week, the garden is illuminated brilliantly at night, creating a wonderful atmosphere.

Why not capture the beautiful scenery with your camera at Yokokuji Temple, where there are many scenic spots to view the autumn leaves?

How to Get to Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple)

Unfortunately, Yokokuji Temple is not the most accessible attraction. The easiest way to get to the temple if you don't have your own vehicle is by taxi from Nagaokakyo Station, Nagaoka-Tenjin Station, or Nishiyama-Tennozan Station (Approximately 10 mins.). Even by bus, from the nearest bus stop it's a 40-minute walk to the temple.
If you like hiking or just want to explore a lesser-known tourist attraction in Japan, we definitely recommend making the hike.

Other Temples to Visit in Kyoto

Being the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto is home to an estimated 3,000 temples. Below are 3 temples you should visit when traveling to Kyoto:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its elevated stage with beautiful seasonal views. The temple is also home to a 3-story pagoda overlooking the city of Kyoto.

Also known as the golden pavilion, the temple, covered in golden leaf, was built in the 14th century and is located inside of a beautiful Japanese garden. It is also a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ryoanji Temple
A Zen temple in northwest Kyoto that was founded during the Onin War (1467 - 1477 AD). On top of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple features a lovely dry rock garden.

Summary of Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple)

Kyoto's Yanagidani Kannon, aka Yokokuji Temple, is a healing spot where you can have a wonderful time throughout the year. The flowers in the flower pots remind visitors of the changing seasons in Japan. When you visit Kyoto on a trip, be sure to stop by Yokokuji Temple!

[TripAdvisor] Yokokuji Temple

Written By
Last Updated : May. 14, 2023
鈴木 正孝(Masataka Suzuki)
A writer born and raised in Asakusa, Tokyo who loves traveling and novels
Hydrangeas at Yokokuji Temple (Yanagidani Kannon) – A Relaxing Spot to Enjoy Colorful Flower Pots in Kyoto
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