Shorenin Temple is also located in Higashiyama, although a bit to the north – it’s right to the north of Chionin and to the west of the Westin Miyako in Kyoto (it’s very close to Sanjo Dori/Street). In contrast to Chionin, which is a huge temple and I never thought very peaceful, Shorenin is smaller and much more peaceful. It isn’t much to look at from the outside, but the gardens are actually quite nice and peaceful
The entrance itself is a bit hidden, but it’s there (identifiable because of the parking lot). You have to go inside and pay, but first you take off your shoes. The actual layout for the place is confusing. Basically you take off your shoes and leave them at the entrance, and you then walk around the inside of the buildings. At the entrance, right after paying, there was a sign to go outside to the garden, but also a path inside, so I was a bit confused – I overheard the receptionist telling others to go look around the inside first, then go to the garden and leave through the garden. Why they couldn’t make a sign saying this is beyond me.
Basically you walk through the inside and between buildings (covered and elevated path) first, then you have to turn around and retrace your steps to go back to the garden. The inside is actually authentic and has some good views outside. They had signs in some of the buildings saying not to take pictures, so I wasn’t sure if that applied to all of them or not (so I didn’t take pictures inside at all). There weren’t many people there and you can enjoy tea inside the first building you’re in (where you pay) while looking out. I noticed pictures of the Emperor visiting in one of the rooms; I later found out that the head priest of Shorenin is traditionally a member of the Imperial family.
I was in a bit of a rush and only had 30 minutes to look around, but the entire place could easily take 45+ minutes.
Admission costs 500 yen for adults, 400 yen for middle school and high school students, and 200 yen for elementary school students.
Shorenin is just to the north of Chionin and is fairly close (5 minutes or so) from Higashiyama subway station. It’s about a 10 minute walk to the north of Yasaka Shrine as well. It can also be reached by buses 5 and 100 from Kyoto Station and 46 from Gion or Kawaramachi.