For my final day in Kyoto I decided to head off the beaten track and visit Otagi Nenbutsu-ji and Nenbutsu-ji in Adashino which is an hour bus ride from Kyoto Station. I had seen some pictures online and these temples looked a little different from the rest.

First up was Otagi Nenbutsu-ji which has over 1000 carved stone figures made by people from various parts of Japan from 1981 to 1991 in an attempt to raise funds and help the temple remain open.

These little guys were everywhere you looked!

Traditional thatched houses lined the roads between the temples and gave the whole area a village feel.

The second temple, Nenbutsu-ji, is an ancient burial ground with over 8000 stones of Buddha each of which represents a departed soul. Situated high on a hill overlooking the city from the northwest, it sits in an area where since the Heian period people have abandoned the bodies of the dead, exposing them to the wind and rain. A bit grizzly but the rows of carvings look phenomenal.

Linking the burial ground to a more contemporary cemetery is a bamboo forest.

How to visit

Below is the map I used to navigate myself around Kyoto and illustrates each place I visited.

View Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Awaji and Himeji in a larger map

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji 
Address: 17 Adashino-cho, Toriimoto, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-8436
Catch the JR Sagano Line (also known as JR Sanin Line) from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama. It takes around 15 minutes to get to Saga-Arashiyama Station and costs 230 yen. From Saga-Arashiyama Station I walked to the temple, however I did get rather lost and had to ask several people. I also relied heavily on my compass. There’s a reason why it’s not featured within the normal tourist pages!