Nanzen-ji Temple, with its expansive grounds and numerous sub-temples, is one of the most pleasant temples in Kyoto.
The temple was originally a retirement villa for Emperor Kameyama, but was dedicated as a Zen temple on his death in 1291.
The temple was once burnt down during the Onin War (1467 - 1477) and most of the present buildings are reconstructions from the Edo Period (1603 - 1868).
Today the temple is the headquarters of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.
At the entrance to the temple stands the massive San-mon Gate.
The gate was reconstructed in 1628 by Todo Takatora to console the souls of the war dead of the Summer Siege of Osaka in 1615.
You can enjoy a fine view of the Kyoto city from the steps lead up to the second story of the gate.
Beyond the gate is the Hojo Hall with impressive screens painted tigers.
A good look at the painted screens reveals the fact that the artist never actually saw a tiger, but instead relied on accounts received from China and India.
The effect is that of tiger-dog.
Within the precincts of the Hojo Hall, the Hojo-teien Garden or also called "Leaping Tiger Garden" is a classic Zen garden that well worth a look.
It is said that the garden was designed by a notable Japanese artist and aristocrat, Kobori Enshu.
In the Hojo Hall, you can enjoy a cup of tea while sitting on Tatami mats.
It is a good chance to get a taste of the tea ceremony in pleasant surroundings.
Another attraction of the temple is "Suiro-kaku", a red brick aqueduct which looks like a Roman aqueduct.
It was built in 1890 to run water from Lake Biwa-ko to Kyoto.
- 8:40 - 17:00 (March - November) *admission until 30 minutes before closing
- 8:40 - 16:30 (December- February) *admission until 30 minutes before closing
- December 28 - 31
Access / Public Transport
- 10 minutes walk from Keage Station on the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line (T09)