Giō-ji(祇王寺)

This temple in Kyoto’s lovely Sagano district has a small moss garden. Surrounded by dense trees, it is a very quiet and relaxed place. In autumn, when the leaves change, it is especially beautiful.

The temple is also mentioned in the Japanese classic Heike Monogatari (Tale of the Heike). The dancer Gio retreated to this temple after a powerful leader of the Taira-clan ended the relationship with her. Wooden statues of her, her mother and sister and Taira-no-Kiyomori ass displayed in the temple.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the JR Sanin Main line towards Sonobe (園部) from platform 32, 33. Get off after 16 minutes at the sixth stop Saga-arashiyama (峨嵐山).
If you prefer to go by bus, take the Kyoto city bus No. 28 or Kyoto bus No. 71 (for Daikaku-ji, 大覚寺) from Kyoto main station and get off after 50 minutes at Saga-Shakado-mae.

From there, walk about 20 minutes towards the west.

Opening times
9am – 5pm (last admission 4:30pm)

Admission
300 yen

Address
〒616-8435 京都府京都市右京区嵯峨鳥居本小坂町32
32 Kozakacho, Sagatoriimoto, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8435
Gardens

Funda-in (Tōfuku-ji)(芬陀院 東福寺)

Funda-in is a sub-temple of Tofuku-ji temple in Kyoto. It was built in 1321, in the Kamakura period, as a family temple for the Ichijo clan. In 1691, the buildings of the temple burnt down, but the temple was rebuilt soon after. There are two main gardens and a smaller garden in the temple. The ink painter and Zen monk Sesshu is said to have designed the southern Zen garden between 1460 and 1468. The temple is therefore also commonly called Sesshū-ji. In 1939, the modern garden master Shigemori Mirei restored the garden and added the eastern garden.

Despite its calm beauty and historical relevance, the temple is often overlooked by visitors on their way to the main temple or more famous sub-temples like Reiun-in or Ryogin-an. Chances are you can enjoy the temple all by yourself if you come on a weekday.

Content:
  • Introduction
  • History of the temple and garden
  • The architecture of the temple building
  • The south garden
  • The east garden
  • Personal impressions by the author (See free preview)
 14 pages with
44 pictures of one of Kyoto’s most beautiful secret gardens
The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Directions

How to get there
Take the Nara line from Kyoto station towards Nara. Get off at the first stop, Tōfuku-ji, and walk in southern direction until you get to Tōfuku-ji. The temple is situated close to the Chumon gate of Tōfuku-ji.

Opening times
April – November: 9am – 5pm
December – March: 9am – 4pm

Admission
300 yen

Adress
〒605-0981 京都府京都市東山区本町15丁目803
〒605-0981 Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Honmachi 15-803
Gardens

Entsū-ji(圓通寺)

The Emperor Go-Mizuno abdicated in 1629 and began to built this villa and garden as a retirement residence. It took him 13 years to find the right place for it with a nice view on Mt. Hiei – The temple is famous for its borrowed scenery (shakkei). After the emperor died, the residence became a Zen Buddhist monastery.

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Directions

How to get there
Take the Karasuma line from Kyoto station (platform 1) towards Kokusai-kaikan (国際会館). Get off after 15 minutes at the 8th stop Kitayama station (北山).
From the station, head east on Kitayama-dori (北山通) After 130 meters turn left and continue to follow the road (40) for 1.6km. You will walk through a residential area, then a small wooded area. On the other side of the hill you can find Entsu-ji.

Opening times
April – November: 10am – 4:30pm
December – March: 10am – 4pm

Admission
500 yen

Address
京都市左京区岩倉幡枝町 389
389 Hataeda-cho Iwakura Sakyo-ku
Gardens

Chion-in(知恩院)

The Chion-in is the headquarters of the Jōdo-shū (Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) founded by priest Hōnen (1133–1212). The original temple was built in 1234 by Hōnen’s disciple, Genchi (1183–1238). It’s Sanmon is the oldest Mountain gate in its original form in Japan, it was built in 1619.

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Gardens

Directions

How to get there
Take the Kyoto city bus 100 from Kyoto station. After 18 minutes and 6 stops, get off at Gion (祇園). From Gion, walk through Maruyama park (円山公園) until you get to the temple. It should take about 10 minutes.

Opening times
9am – 3:50pm (last admission)

Admission
300 Yen (Yūzen’en Garden)
400 Yen (Hōjō Garden)
500 Yen (both gardens)

Address
京都市東山区新橋通大和大路東入三丁目林下町400
Kyoto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Shinbashi-dori, Yamato-Oji-higashi, 3 chome, Rinka-cho 400

Aoi-den and Kasui-en(葵殿 佳水園)

Both gardens are now on the ground of the Westin Hotel Kyoto. Visitors can enter before sunset for free. “Aoiden” was built by the garden master Ogawa Jihei (7th generation). It is a stroll garden that utilizes land features and enables the water from the Biwako River to drop into a waterfall basin 15 meters below. “Kasuien” was built by his eldest son Hakuyo.

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Directions

How to get there
Take Kyoto city bus number 5 from Kyoto station towards Yagura-soshajo-mae (岩倉操車場前). After 11 stops and around 30 minutes, get off at Jingu-dori (神宮道). After getting off the bus, walk 5 minutes in direction of traffic.

Address
京都市東山区三条けあげ
Kyoto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Keage, Sanjo
Gardens

Zuihō-in (Daitoku-ji)(瑞峯院)

Zuihō-in is an extraordinary temple in Kyoto: It was founded by daimyo Otomo, who was one of the early Christians in Japan. He founded the temple as his family temple; he and his wife are buried here as well. Garden designer Shigemori Mirei, who created the gardens in 1961, included a Garden of the Cross and even a statue of the Virgin Mary in reference to the founder.

The temple itself was built in 1546, after the Onin war (1467-77), so many of its building have never burnt and are still in their original shape.

The main garden to the south of the Hōjō is called Dokuza-tei (独坐庭 ). The Chinese characters mean Alone-Sitting-Garden and refer to an Island of the Taoist mythology. From the famous Horai-Zan, the Mountain of the Blessed, a long and thin peninsula protrudes into the rough sea. Even further away is a single island, sitting alone in the rough waters of the wide sea. If you look at the garden, it is actually really easy to see the Horai-zan in the right-hand corner, the peninsula in front of it and the rough sea.

Contents of the eBook
  • Introduction
  • Daitoku-ji
  • History of Zuihō-in
  •  -Shigemori Mirei-
  • Buildings
      -Hōjō
      -Teahouse Yokei-an
      -Teahouse Anshō-ken
      -Teahouse Heisei-tai-an
      -Gates
  • Gardens
      -Entry Garden
      -Dokuza-tei
      -Kanmin-tei
      -Tea gardens
  • Anika’s Impressions
  • Recommendations around Zuihō-in
  • Access & General Information
  • Related eBooks

12 pages full of information about the temple
21 pictures of the gardens
PDF 15 MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Watch the Zuiho-in video here.

Directions

How to get there
Bus: Take the bus 205 or 206 and get off at the stop ‘Daitoku-ji’.
Subway: Take the Karasuma line to Kitaō-ji station and walk about 15 minutes in a westward direction.

Admission
400 Yen

Address
EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Murasakino, 53 Daitoku-ji-Chō
JP: 〒603-8231, 京都市 北区 紫野 大徳寺町53

Telephone
075-491-1454

Opening hours
9am – 5pm
Gardens

Tōfuku-ji - Garden of the Hōjō(東福寺)

Tōfuku-ji is one of the Five Great Zen temples in the Kyoto Mountain system. It is a temple complex in southern Kyoto with 24 sub-temples.

Its garden were redesigned by the scholar Mirei Shigemori in the 1930s. He had studied the traditional Japanese gardens for decades before starting to design gardens himself. He built his designs on the old garden design principles, and connected them to the contemporary Japanese design of that time. The result are impressive gardens like the four gardens of Tōfuku-ji that surround the hōjō, the former head priest’s quarters.

Another remarkable feature of this tempe is the big mountain gate (山門 – San-mon) to the south of the garden. It is the oldest San-mon in Japan. The temple was built in 1236 (Kamakura period), and the founding priest is Enni Ben’en, a Japanese priest that went to China to study Zen buddhism. He is also believed to have imported the Udon wheat noodles, until today one of the most popular dishes in Japan.

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Gardens

Directions

How to get there
Take the Nara line from Kyoto station towards Nara. Get off at the first stop, Tōfuku-ji, and walk in southern direction until you get to the temple.

Admission
– 500 Yen (Hojo and gardens)
– 600 Yen (Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando Hall), 1000 Yen during Autumn season
– 1000 Yen Combi ticket garden and bridge (not during autumn season)

Opening Times
April – October: 9am – 4pm
November – first Sunday in December: 8:30am – 4pm
first Monday in December – to March: 9am – 3:30pm

Address
EN: 15-778 Honmachi Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
JP: 〒605-0981 京都府京都市東山区本町15丁目778

Tenryū-ji(天龍寺)

The temple was founded by shogun Ashikaga Takauji in 1339, primarily to venerate Gautama Buddha, and its first head priest was Musō Soseki. Construction was completed in 1345. As a temple related to both the Ashikaga family and Emperor Go-Daigo, the temple is held in high esteem, and is ranked number one among Kyoto’s so-called Five Mountains. In 1994, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”.

There are two different tickets – one for the garden and another for the temple buildings itself. We saw the garden only, but would recommend to buy the temple ticket, as you get to see the garden from the temple and the inside of great fusuma-e, the sliding screen paintings on the inside of the temple.

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Directions

How to get there
Bus: Take the Kyoto bus 61, 72, or 83, and get off at the stop ‘Arashiyama Tenryuji Mae’. Take the Shi bus 11, 28, or 93, and get off at the stop ‘Arashiyama Tenryuji Mae’.

Subway: Take the Arashiyama line to Arashiyama station and walk about 5 minutes in western direction.

Admission
500 Yen (garden only)
800 Yen (garden and building)

Opening hours 8:30am – 5pm
Last admission: 4:50pm

Address
EN: 68 Saga-tenryuji-susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
JP: 〒616-8385 京都府京都市右京区嵯峨天龍寺芒ノ馬場町68
Gardens

Shūgaku-in Rikyū(修学院離宮)

Shūgaku-in Rikyū is an exception among Kyoto’s imperial gardens. There is not only one garden on its grounds, but three separate gardens. The gardens are connected by gravel paths, which lead through vegetable patches and rice fields. It also never was the official residence of a member of the imperial family – Emperor Gomizuno-o (1596-1680) had built these gardens as a private retreat in the outskirts of Kyoto, on the foot of the Higashiyama, the eastern hills. Additionally, this garden may be the best example of the use of “borrowed landscape”- Shakkei (借景) in Japan.

The retired emperor Gomizuno-o (後水尾天皇) built the gardens between 1653 and 1655 with the financial support of the shogun. More than 600 years earlier, in the Heian period (794-1185), a temple called “Shūgaku-in” stood on this site. Without any actual political power, the emperor had lots of time on his hands to dedicate himself to the study of fine arts, poetry, architecture and design. It is therefore believed that most of the design was his own work. He has already participated in the design process of his official retirement residence Sentō Gosho in 1629, whose main designer was garden master Kobori Enshū. Enshū passed away in 1647, but his influence on emperor Gomizuno-o is still visible in the design of the Shūgaku-in Rikyū gardens.

There are three gardens: The lower garden, the middle garden and the upper garden. All of them have their own characteristics, but most visitors agree that the upper garden is the most spectacular one – especially in autumn, when the trees of the surrounding mountains turn into a vibrant red, yellow and orange.

Access to the garden is only granted to guided tours (free of charge). You can apply for a tour at the Imperial Household Agency Office in Kyoto (3 Kyoto-gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8611) or on their website:
http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/shugakuin.html .
A contingent of tickets is available each day from 11 am on a first come first-served basis.

This is eBook is about the Japanese stone lanterns (Ishi-doro) of the Shūgaku-in Rikyū gardens.

Content
  • Shugaku-in Rikyu
  • Lower Garden
      Stone lantern – Ishi-dōrō (石燈籠)
      Kimono-sleeve lantern – Sode-gata tōrō (袖形燈籠)
      Alligator’s mouth lantern – Wanikuchi dōrō (鰐口燈籠)
      Korean stone lantern – Chōsen-dōrō (朝鮮燈籠)
  • Middle Garden
      Christian lantern – Kirishitan-dōrō (キリシタン燈籠)
      Oribe stone lantern (織部燈籠)
  • Upper Garden
      Mountain temple lantern – Yamadera-dōrō (山寺燈籠)
      Waterfall viewing lantern – Takimi-dōrō (滝見燈籠)


5 pages with
13 pictures of the stone lanterns of the Shugaku-in Rikyu garden

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Gardens

Directions

How to get there
The easiest way to get to the Shūgaku-in Imperial Villa is to take the city bus number 5 to the stop Shūgaku-in Rikyu Michi. From there, walk 15 min in eastern direction.

Admission
Free
Only adults over 18 can apply for the tour.

Address
JP: 〒 606-8052 京都府京都市左京区修学院藪添
EN: Shugakuin Yabusoe, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8052

Telephone
+81-75-211-1215

Shisen-dō(詩仙堂)

Shisen-dō is is a temple of the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism. It was built in the early Edo period (1641) as a retirement villa for Ishikawa Jōzan. Ishikawa Jōzan was a poet and calligrapher.

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Directions

How to get there
The easiest way to get to Shisen-do is to take the Kyoto city bus number 5 from Kyoto station. It takes around 50 minutes and 25 bus stops to get there. Get off at Ichijoji Sagarimatsucho (一乗寺下り松町) and walk 4minutes in uphill in eastern direction.

Admission
500 Yen

Opening times
9:00am – 5:00pm
Gardens