The five storied pagoda at To-ji (a Buddhist Temple) has been a symbol of Kyoto for a long time. Originally built in the 9th century, the current pagoda was built in 1644. Prior to the 1644 rebuild, the pagoda was burnt down by lighting strikes four times, but it has never been toppled by an earthquake, thanks to an earthquake absorbing design. At 55m high To-ji's pagoda is the highest pagoda in Japan and a national treasure.
To-ji which means "East Temple" was built as a guardian temple for the east side of the old city. There was also a temple called "Sai-ji" (West Temple) to guard the western side of the city, but this no longer exists, it's location was just to the south east of the present day Nishi-Oji Station on the JR Kyoto Line.
I mentioned in a previous BLOG that east is "higashi" and west is "nishi", that is correct those are the Japanese words. To (pronounced like the English word "toe") is the word for "east" borrowed from the Chinese Language which is also found in the word Tokyo (which means "East Palace"). Sai (or alternatively "Sei") is the word for "west" borrowed from the Chinese language. Just like when words borrowed from English are used in Japanese, the words borrowed from Chinese don't sound exactly the same as they do when spoken in Chinese. Unlike Chinese, Japanese is not tonal and has a much smaller syllabary.
Entrance to the garden by the pagoda normally cost 500yen for adults (but can be higher on special occasions, like night openings). The pagoda itself is not open to the public, but access to two other historical temple buildings of To-ji are included in the entrance fee. Unlike a lot of temples in Kyoto, because the floors of these two buildings are made of stone, there's no need to remove footwear to enter them.
To-ji is a 15 minute walk west from the Kyoto Station's Hachijo exit. To save a bit of a walk you can catch a local train on the Kintensu Railway one stop from Kyoto to Toji station (2 minutes, 150yen), this is a private railway line that's NOT covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
This photo was taken with a Nikon D300 camera and an AF Nikkor 24f/2.8D lens. It was captured as a RAW (.NEF file) and post processed in DxO Optics Pro. I made the following adjustments: Default camera and lens adjustments applied; DxO Smart Lighting (25%); DxO Clear View (50%); Blacks (+10%); Contrast (+25%); Microcontrast (+25%); Vibrancy (+25%); and PRIME noise reduction applied.