Bell Tower

Ninna-ji Bell Tower

The bell tower was built during the 17th century reconstruction of the temple. It features a tiled irimoya (hip-and-gable) roof. The lower portion of the tower is of the hakama-goshi style, named for its likeness to the flared “hakama” skirt worn with traditional Japanese clothing. At many places temple bells are visible, but, as you can see, at Ninna-ji the bell is fully inclosed.


Chokushi-mon: Gate of the Imperial Messenger

Chokushi-mon from outside the palace
The Chokushi-mon is visible on the left after entering the temple through the Nio-mon. Behind this gate lies the South Garden and the palace area (“Goten”) of the temple. The Chokushi Gate was destroyed in a fire in 1887 and was rebuilt in 1913.  Many other parts of the palace were destroyed in this fire, and those buildings as well as the Chokushi Gate were reconstructed under the careful observation of architect Suekichi Kameoka. The Chokushi Gate is considered a truly magnificent example of the “Kameoka-style.”

The Chokushi Gate was built as a gate for the Emperor to pass through in order to enter the palace grounds. Outside of any visits from the Emperor, the gate is opened once a year for a festival that originates at nearby Fukuōji Shrine. The mother of Emperor Uda is enshrined there, and every year in October there is a procession from Fukuōji Shrine to Ninna-ji Temple in order to bring the mother to visit her son.
Chokushi-mon close-up

Niō-mon: Gate of the Two Guardian Kings

The first thing most visitors to Ninna-ji Temple see is the Niō Gate. The gate stands 18.7m (61.4ft) tall featuring a tile irimoya (hip-and-gable) roof and two stories. The present Niō Gate was constructed between 1637 and 1646 after the original gate, along with other structures on the temple grounds, was destroyed during the Ōnin War. The gate is built in the Wayō (和様) style, a Japanese style that originated in the Nara Period (710-794).

On the left and right sides of the gate stand statues of the two guardian Deva kings. On the interior side of the gate, two mythical lions sit directly behind the Deva kings. The Niō Gate along with the gates at Chion-in and Nanzenji are considered to be the three great sanmon-style gates of Kyoto (京の三大門). These three gates were constructed during the same period, but the Wayō style of Niō-mon offers a contrast to the Chinese Zen-style architecture of the other two gates.DSC02118