A sprawling Zen paradise surrounded by lush green hills, to offer many temple buildings, a dry sand garden, and a large brick aqueduct in its huge precincts

Nansen-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto. The great temple of Nanzen-ji temple was converted from a residence of the Emperor at the end of the 13th century. It was destroyed by fire during subsequent internal disturbances, but Nanzen-ji was rebuilt in the early Edo Period. The gate at the entrance to the temple is 22 m height .

The chamber of the residence of the chief priest of this temple was built at the end of the 16th century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was the supreme ruler of Japan at the time. The architectural style of this residence is called Shinden-zukuri. The 124 Japanese paintings on the sliding screen doors inside the residence are designated by the national government as Important Cultural Properties.

Hojo Garden is the Karesansui-style (Japanese distinctive rock garden of only stones and white sand) which is adjacent to the residence of the chief priest . The garden is surrounded by the Tsuiji wall (Mud wall with a tiled roof), with six stones placed by the wall on white sand. The stones are systematically connected and separated one by one, and its unique and outstanding arrangement is famously known as “a mother tiger and her cubs crossing the river.”

nanzen-ji hojo


Outside the Hojo garden, visitors will come across a rather odd sight.  a large brick aqueduct that passes through the temple grounds. It was Built during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the aqueduct is part of a canal system that was constructed to carry water and goods between Kyoto and Lake Biwa in neighbouring Shiga Prefecture.

Paths run alongside the canal that lead into the surrounding forest. This European style canal system is a very popular photo spot among tourists.

nanzen-ji aqua

The area is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and is one of Kyoto’s best viewing spot for autumn leaves.  Visitors must visit Tenjuan, a sub temple in the precinct to enjoy more autumnal beauty.

Nanzen-ji Temple(南禅寺)

Address : Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Access : 10minute walk from Keage station on the Kyoto subway Tozai-line.

Hours : 8:40 to 16:40

Closed : Dec. 28-31

Admission : Free in the temple precincts
Hojo Garden : 500 yen (regular fee)
Sanmon Gate : 500 yen (regular fee)
Nanzen-in : 300 yen (regular fee)