A 700-year-old pine tree welcomes visitors to Hosenin Temple, a lodging site for Buddhist pilgrims since the 11th century. Inside the quiet temple, visitors sip on traditional Japanese green tea while meditating on the ancient tree and gardens seen through the windows. Outside, visitors place their ears to a pair of bamboo tubes that stretch down into the ground from a small wooden terrace. It's said that the sounds heard from water dripping into a water basin symbolize harmony in the universe.
The serenity can only be disrupted by blood-smattered ceilings, a result of a gruesome Samurai battle that took place in the area in the 1600s. Temple keepers salvaged the wood in Fushimi Castle, where the battle was fought and lost, and affixed it to the temple's ceiling as a way of remembering the history and the lives of those in the battle.
Located in Ohara in Northern Kyoto, the fastest way to reach Hosenin Temple is by train and bus. The Karasuma Subway line terminates at Kokosaikaikan Station, where Kyoto bus numbers 19 connects to Ohara. Bus number 17 provides direct service from Kyoto Station to Ohara. Admission costs 800 yen for adults ($8USD), 700 yen for junior and high school students ($7USD), and 600 yen for elementary school students ($6USD). Hosenin is open from 9:00am -5:00pm. The temple gardens are particularly beautiful in the autumn and spring, when seasonal flowers bloom.