One of the best Zen Temple in Kyoto has beautiful zen gardens.
Kennin-ji is a Zen temple located just south of Kyoto’s famous Gion geisha district. The temple serves as one of the main branches of the Rinzai Sect of Japanese Buddhism, and is ranked third among the five great Zen temples of Kyoto.
Kennin-ji Temple was founded in 1202 by the priest Yosai, who introduced Zen Buddhism, and is considered to be the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto.
The temple has a several large buildings and about two dozen smaller buildings in the temple’s grounds. Most of the grounds are open to the public for free.
Visitors must pay an entrance fee to enter the main buildings, though It’s worth to enter as you can explore the interiors of the main buildings and enjoy a variety of gardens.
There are two zen gardens. The Cho-on-tei garden is a simple and refined Zen garden. It has “San-zon-seki”, a set of 3 stones that represent of the Buddha and 2 Zen monks, and maple trees are all placed to create a beautiful view.
The other garden is based on the famous 〇△▢ work by Sengai Gibon, a monk of Shofuku-ji Temple, Japan’s oldest Zen Temple. The idea behind the”circle, triangle, square” is that all things in this universe can be represented by these forms.
Visitors can also admire some artworks and the most impressive artwork is the twin dragons painted on the ceiling of the Dharma Hall. It measures 11.4m by 15.7m and is drawn with the finest quality ink on thick traditional Japanese paper to commemorate the temple’s 800th anniversary.