One of the best Zen Temple in Kyoto has beautiful zen gardens.

Kennin-ji is a Zen temple is 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 it is ranked third among the five great Zen temples of Kyoto. Originally Kennin-ji Temple was founded in 1202 by the priest Yosai, who introduced Zen Buddhism. The temple is considered to be the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto.

Kennin-ji 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. Even though It’s worth to enter as you can explore the interiors of the main buildings and enjoy a variety of gardens.


Zen 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 two Zen monks, and maple trees are all placed to create a beautiful view. Maple trees are colored late at Kennin-ji’s zen garden. Visitors can admire a beautiful view from a fine tatami room in autumn.

kennin-ji dry garden

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.

The twin dragon ceiling

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.

kennin-ji calligraphic
● 〇△▢ calligraphy
kennin-ji dragon
● The twin dragon at the Dharma hall

Address : Japan, 〒605-0811 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama, Komatsuchō 4-584

Access : A short walk from Gion Shijo station on the Keihan Line and 10-minute walk from Kawaramachi station on the Hankyu Line.

Hours : 10:00 to 17:00

Admission : 500 yen

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