A Zen Buddhist temple with a tranquil garden, and legendary ceiling with wood reclaimed from a castle

Genko-an is a Zen temple with a tranquil garden in Takagamine of northern part of Kyoto city. The temple was founded in 1364 as a temple of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, but was converted to the Soto sect in 1694. Its present main hall was constructed at that time. The main hall enshrines Shakamuni Buddha and Reishi-Kannon.

Genko-an is famous for its legendary blood-stained ceiling of the main hall, which was transferred from Fushimi Castle. The floorboards stained with blood from the Battle of Fushimi Castle in 1600 were later installed as ceiling panels to honor the samurai and appease their spirits.

Windows of wisdom

The temple is also famous for two large windows in the hall. One is round and is called “The Window of Enlightenment,” expressing the complete wholeness of the universe. The square window is called “The Window of Confusion,” each corner representing one of the four human afflictions of life, death, sickness, and suffering. Beyond the windows, a beautiful garden spreads out, and the autumn leaves are particularly beautiful.

Passing through the temple gate, visitors are greeted by a large maple tree in front of the main hall. The maple trees in the Tsurukame Garden turn brilliant colors, further enhancing the temple’s autumn scenery. The garden is designed with paving stones, plantings, and stone lanterns well-arranged so that the overall expression changes with the movement of the sunlight in the morning and evening.

Takagamine area has Shoden-ji and Koetsu-ji you can visit as well.


Address : 47 Takagamine Kitatakaminecho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8468

Access : Take a Kita 1 bus from Kita-oji Station on the subway Karasuma line to the Takagamine Genkoan-mae bus stop.

Hours : 9:00 to 17:00

Admission : 400 yen(500 yen in the autumn color season)

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