Sanzen-in  (三千院)

Sanzen-in is the main attraction of Ohara, a small village north of Kyoto. It was founded 806 by the monk Saicho that brought introduced the Tendai school of Buddhism to Japan.
It has a moss garden that can be admired from the Shinden. Around the garden are several small stone head sitting in the moss. Their faces are laughing, that is why they are called Warai-jizo (笑い地蔵 – Laughing Buddhas). The best season for this garden is definitely autumn. The leaf changing in Owara starts usually a little earlier than in Kyoto.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Ohara line bus towards Ohara (大原). It takes a little more than 1 hour to get to Ohara. Since Sanzen-in is the most popular temple in Ohara, it is easy to find. Just walk 600 meters east.

Opening times
8:30am – 5pm

Admission
600 yen

Address
左京区大原来迎院町540
Sakyo-ku, Ohara Raigouin-cho 540

Rokuō-in  (鹿王院庭園)

In western Kyoto, near the Arashiyama hills, lies the Rinzai Zen temple Rokuō-in. It was built in 1380. The small Zen garden has a tsukubai, trimmed shrubs and some great maples. In fact, the best season to visit this garden is autumn, when the maples turn a bright red.

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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). From there, walk 400 meters in eastern direction.

    You can also use the Rokuo-in train station on the Kyofuku-Arashiyama line.

    Opening times
    9am – 5pm

    Admission
    300 Yen

    Address
    京都市右京区嵯峨北堀町24
    Kyoto-Shi, Ukyō-Ku, Saga-Kitabori-cho 24

    Shōden-ji  (正伝寺)

    Shōden-ji is a small temple of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism. It is tucked away in the mountains in northern Kyoto. The simple Zen garden in front of the Hojo has a great view on the sky and Mt. Hiei.

    The garden is said to have been laid out by the famous garden designer and tea master Kobori Enshu in the Edo period (1603-1868), although there is few evidence of that. In the 1930s, the Japanese garden scholar Shigemori Mirei restored the garden that had been altered over the centuries.

    The temple’s Hojo, the main hall, has been removed from the castle Fushimi-jo in 1653. In the castle, many samurai commited suicide (Seppuku) during the Sekigahara battle in the year 1600. The floor boards of the castle became the ceiling of the temple to pray for those who gave their lives in the battle. This kind of ceiling is called Chitenjo (血天井).

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    Directions

    How to get there
    The easiest way to get to Shoden-ji is to take the Kyoto city bus number 9 towards Nishigamo Shako-mae (西賀茂車庫前).
    Get off after 42 minutes at Jinkoin-mae (神光院前). From there, walk westward for about 750 meter.

    Opening times
    9am – 5pm

    Admission
    400 Yen

    Address
    北区西賀茂北鎮守庵町72
    Kita-Ku, Nishigamo-Kitachinjuan-cho 72

    Reiun-in (Tōfuku-ji)  (霊雲院 東福寺)

    Reiun-in is a sub temple of Tofuku-ji temple of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism. It was built in 1526, and the gardens are said to have been built in 1543 (Muromachi period). Over the centuries, the gardens fell into disrepair and were renovated by the modern Japanese garden master Shigemori Mirei. The southern garden in front of the Shoin, the study, is called “Nine Mountains and Eight Seas”. Both this garden and the garden on the other side of the building clearly has “Shigemori” written all over it. He uses sand of different colors and curvilinear lines in his design.

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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.

    Opening times
    9am – 4pmt

    Admission
    300 yen

    Ōhashi-ke  (大橋家庭園)

    The Ōhashi-ke garden is a private garden in the traditional Fushimi Inari neighborhood in southern Kyoto. It has a special surprise for its visitors: A Suikinkutsu (水琴窟), a musical instrument in the garden. A Suikinkutsu is a jar that is buried in the earth below a water feature. This is the oldest Suikinkutsu in Kyoto. As the water trickles from the basin through a layer of gravel and into the jar, the sound of the water drops is echoed by the walls of the jar. Listening to this soothing sound is said to have a cooling effect on the listener – very welcome on Kyoto’s hot summer days.

    We arrived on a sunny Sunday morning and were greeted by the white-haired Ōhashi-san, the owner of the garden. His great-grandfather Ōhashi Jinbei had the garden built in 1913 by Kyoto’s garden master Ogawa Jihee. Ogawa was the 7th generation of a family of Japanese gardeners. This tradition continues until today – every year, the 11th and 12th generation of the family work for two days with 6 to 7 people in the garden. The garden also features a great number of Japanese stone lanterns.

    Contents:

    Overview
    Suikinkutsu – How it works
    Stone lanterns of the garden
    The tea house resting arbor
    Other points of interest

    9 pages with detailed information
    43 great pictures and illustrations
    16MB

    Feel free to pin these pictures to your Pinterest board:

    Sound of the Suikinkutsu
    Watch the video here and here.

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    Directions

    Address
    京都市伏見区深草開土町
    Kyoto, Fushimi-Ku, Fukakusa, Kaidocho

    How to get there
    From Kyoto station, take the Nara line towards Joyo. Get off at the second stop, Inari. Then walk in north eastern direction to Fukakusa Kaidocho.

    Admission
    The Ōhashi-ke is not longer open to the public!

    Sokushū-in (Tōfuku-ji)  (即宗院)

    Sokushu-in is a small sub-temple of Tōfuku-ji. It only open in autumn, which is also the best time to visit it. Unknown to most visitors and a little off the main temples, it is a great place to escape the masses of tourists visiting in Tōfuku-ji in autumn.

    The temple was built as a villa for a member of the Fujiwara clan in 1196. In 1387, the temple was founded on the grounds of the old villa.

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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.

    Opening times
    Only open on special days in autumn,
    check this website for more information (Japanese only):
    http://www.sokusyuin-sizensou.com/

    Shinju-an (Daitoku-ji)  (真珠庵)

    Shinju-an was founded in 1491, in honor of the Zen priest Ikkyu, who was the head priest of Daitoku-ji from 1474- 1481. Ikkyu played the main role in reviving the Daitoku-ji temple complex after its destruction in the Onin war. The dry landscape garden and tea house were built in 1638 and are attributed to Kanamori Sowa, who was a tea master from the Japanese Alps.

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    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.

    Address
    EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Murasakino, 52 Daitoku-ji-Chō
    JP: 〒603-8231, 京都市 北区 紫野 大徳寺町52

    Admission
    Open in the first week of November

    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

    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

     
     

    Zuiho-in Video

    Watch the Zuiho-in video here.

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    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