Shōren-in(青蓮院)

Shōren-in is one of the five Monzeki temples of the Tendai sect located in Kyoto.

Since its sixth head priest Dokaku, until the Meiji period every head priest was a member of the imperial family.

This temple, founded in the late Heian period, has two famous Japanese gardens.
It is said that the main garden with the ryūjin no ike pond was built by Soami during the Muromachi period.
The other garden, kirishima no niwa, was created by Kobori Enshū during the Edo period.

Although it is well known among foreign and local tourists alike, on visiting it gives a tranquil feeling.

Contents of the eBook:
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Buildings
  • Gardens
  • Highlights
  • Anikas Impressions
  • Around Shōren-in

14 pages full of information about the temple
33 pictures of the gardens
PDF 18MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Directions

How to get there
10 min walk from Tozai Subway Line Higashiyama Station (東山駅) or Bus 206 to Chion-in mae (知恩院前)

Address
JP: 〒605-0035 京都府京都市,東山区粟田口三条坊町69−1

69-1 Awataguchi Sanjobo-cho Higashiyama-ku、Kyoto-shi

Admission
500 Yen

Opening hours
9am to 5pm
Gardens

Hōgon-in (Tenryū-ji)(宝厳院)

Hōgon-in is a sub-temple of Tenryū-ji temple and was first built in 1461 in the middle of Kyoto (now Kamigyo ward).
It burnt down during the Onin War and was rebuilt later. In Meiji period, it was moved to its present location in Arashiyama next to Tenryū-ji temple.
Hosokawa Yoriyuki had the temple wished to build by Muso Soseki. It was actually constructed by 3rd generation Seichūeikō after his death.

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Directions

How to get there
・Take the JR Saga Line (JR嵯峨野線) to Saga-Arashiyama Station (嵯峨嵐山駅) with 8min walk.
・Take Keifuku-Arashiyama Line (京福電気鉄道嵐山本線) to Arashiyama Station (嵐山) with 5min walk.
・Kyoto Bus (京都バス) Number 71 and 72 to Keifuku-Arashiyama Station (京福嵐山駅前).
・City Bus (市バス) Number 28 to Arashiyama-Tenryū-ji Mae (嵐山天龍寺前).

Follow the road to Tenryū-ji entrance, but go to the left over the parking lot before entering the temple.
Hōgon-in lies to the right side.

Opening times
9:00am – 5:00pm
Opens twice a year.

Admission fee
500 Yen

Address
京都府京都市右京区嵯峨天竜寺芒ノ馬場町36
Kyoto, Ukyo-ku, Saga-tenryu-ji-susukinobaba-cho 36
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

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

Saihō-ji (Koke-dera)(西芳寺 (苔寺))

The garden of Saihō-ji is acclaimed by many as Kyoto’s most beautiful garden and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. It is especially famous for its moss garden, for which reason it is also commonly known as Moss temple or Koke-dera (苔寺).

In 1339, the famous Zen monk Musō Soseki became the head priest of the temple and remodeled the garden. For him, creating gardens was part of his zen meditation routine. He founded a lot of temples and built or remodeled their gardens, but Saihō-ji is clearly his masterpiece.

Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408, 足利義満) sat here in meditation in the upper part of the garden commemorating the garden’s creator Musō Soseki.
Yoshimitsu’s grandson shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1435-1490, 足利善政) loved this garden so much that he modeled his own retreat, the Temple of the Silver Pavillion – Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺), after Saihō-ji. Famous monks of different Buddhist sects have been head priests of the temple – namely Kūkai (774-835), Hōnen (1133-1212) and Musō Soseki (1275-1351).
During the Edo period the temple fell into disrepair. It must have been at this time that moss slowly encroached the garden until it covered all of it. Today, there are roughly 120 types of moss in the garden.

The best times to view the garden are during the rainy season (mid-June until mid-July) and in autumn, when the red and orange of the maple’s leafs contrast nicely with the lush green of the velvety moss.

Contents
  • History of the temple
  • Buildings of the temple
  • Musō Soseki’s Garden
  • Philosophy
  • The Moss
  • The Lower Garden
  • The Upper Garden
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Registration process
  • How to get there
  • Literature


18 pages
84 illustrations
19.3 MB
2012

The eBook comes as pdf in self-print format.

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Directions

How to get there
Saihō-ji is situated in the picturesque Arashiyama mountains to the west of Kyoto. Although you need to change trains, it is not very complicated to get there.
First get to Katsura station by taking the Hankyu Kyoto line. In Katsura, change to the cute trains of the Hankyu Arashiyama line to get to Matsu-o station. From there, you can take a bus to get to Koke-dera (it says so big in big letters on the front of the bus). After that, it is only a short walk to the temple.

You can also go directly from Kyoto station with bus 28 until Matsuo-Taisha-mae and walk around 15 min in southern direction. From the Sanjō station of the Keihan line, you can take bus 63 to the final stop ‘Koke-dera’.

Address
Saihō-ji Temple 56 Jingatani-cho Matsuo Nishikyo-ku Kyoto, 615-8286, Japan
京都府京都市 西京区松尾神ヶ谷町56

Telephone
075-391-3631

Admission
Visiting the temple and its garden is only possible with previous registration by a return postcard (往復ハガキ). You will be told on the return post card a time and date when visiting is possible. The entrance fee is 3.000 Yen.
Online reservation is now possible for 4.000 Yen.
Gardens

Ryōgen-in (Daitoku-ji)(大徳寺龍源院)

Ryōgen-in is one of Daitoku-ji’s twenty-two sub-temples. It is a rather small temple, but has several superlatives to offer:

→ One of its gardens (Tōkekiko) is Japan’s smallest garden (supposedly).

→ Another of its gardens (Ryūgin-tei) is Daitoku-ji’s oldest garden (maybe).

→ Its meditation hall is Japan’s oldest Hōjō – competing for this title with Ryogin-an of Tofuku-ji.

→ Japan’s oldest gun is on display inside the temple buildings.

The temple was found in 1502 as Daitoku-ji’s sub-temples by the priest Tokei. It belongs to the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.

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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
350 Yen

Opening hours
9am – 4:20pm

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
075-491-7635
Gardens

Ryōan-ji(龍安寺)

Ryōan-ji is maybe the most famous rock garden of Japan.

Ryoan-ji was built on the grounds of a villa of the Fujiwara clan in the Heian period (794-1185). The deputy of the shogun and warlord Hosokawa Katsumoto bought the estate in 1450 and built his residence on it, together with the temple Ryōan-ji.

It was destroyed in the Onin War, but rebuilt in 1488 by Katsumoto’s son Matsumoto. It is possible that the garden of the temple was also created at that time, but some scholars argue that it was built earlier by Katsumoto or later, for example, by Zen monk and garden designer Sōami, who also built the dry landscape garden (karesansui) of Daisen-in.

The temple burnt down in 1797, and the garden was recreated later. As a print of the year 1799 shows, the garden today hasn’t changed since that time.

Apart from little patches of moss around the stones, this Japanese garden has no plants. Behind the mud wall a row of trees create a green backdrop for the garden, making the light gray sand seem even brighter. The design is more complex than it seems at first – for example is it impossible to view all 15 stones at once from any angle of the terrace. The composition is also a fine example for the delicate balance of mass and void and the skillful use of numbers and groups.

Contents of the eBook
  • Introduction
  • History of the temple
  • The Rock Garden of Ryoan-ji
  • Around the Rock Garden
  • Sub temples of Ryōan-ji
  • Around the pond
  • How to get there
  • Other temples near Ryoanji

15 pages
37 illustrations/pictures
30 MB
2015

eBook will be delivered as PDF.

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Directions

How to get there
Two bus lines are getting you to Ryoanji – Either take city bus number 50 to the last stop Ritsumeikan-Daigaku-Mae and walk for seven minutes in direction of travel, or take city bus number 59 until the stop Ryoan-ji Mae.
If you are traveling with the trains of the Keifuku Railway line (they look more like trams), you can get off at Ryoan-ji Michi station and walk north for 7 minutes.

Opening hours
March – November: 8:00am to 5:00pm
December – February: 8:30am to 4:30pm

Admission
500 yen
Gardens

Kyōto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace)(京都御所)

The Imperial Palace in Kyoto has been the seat of the Emperor from the Heian period (794-1185) until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). After the Edo period, the Tenno and his court moved to the Old Edo, which then became the official capital of Japan and changed its name to Tokyo – Capital of the East.

The palace and garden are within the old palace enclosure but were built much later, during the Edo period (1855). The style is loosely based on the Heian shinden-zukuri style, with large gravel courtyards and a small pond garden.

Access to the garden is only granted free of charge. Tours are held in Japanese, Chinese, and English. English tours are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can apply for them by visiting the Visitors Room on the right side of the entrance.

[Updated: 10/2018]

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Directions

How to get there From Kyoto station, take the Karasuma line to Marutamachi station (丸太町, 4 stops, 7 minutes). From there, enter the Kyoto-gyoen and go to the entrance of the Sentō-Gosho in the center of the park.

If you prefer to go by bus, take the city bus 205 and get off at the bus stop Furitsu-idaibyouin-mae (府立医大病院). The bus stop is to the east of the Kyoto-gyoen, enter the park and walk in a westwards direction.

Address
JP: 〒602-0881 京都府京都市,上京区京都御苑
EN: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 〒602-0881

Opening hours
September & March 9 a.m. – 3:50 p.m. (Last admission) 4:30 p.m. (Closing time)
October – February 9 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. (Last admission) 4 p.m. (Closing time)
April – August 9 a.m. – 4:20 p.m. (Last admission) 5 p.m. (Closing time)
Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a holiday, the palace will close on Tuesday instead.)
December 28 – January 4

Admission
Entrance is free.
Gardens

Kōrin-in (Daitoku-ji)(興臨院)

Kōrin-in is a sub-temple of Daitoku-ji. It was founded in 1520 as a family temple for the Hatekeyama family. The temple building (Hōjō, 方丈, abbot’s quarter) built in the Shoin architectural style of the Muromachi period. Apart for the Zen garden, the temple is famous for its tea room Kankyo-tei.

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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
600 Yen
(Discount-ticket in combination with Ōbai-in is available.)

Address
EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Murasakino, 80 Daitoku-ji-Chō
JP: 〒603-8231, 京都市 北区 紫野 大徳寺町80

Opening hours
Open only in autumn, between 10:00 am – 5:00pm

Website with opening time frames
https://kyotoshunju.com/temple/daitokuji-kohrinin/
Gardens

The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)(金閣寺 鹿苑寺)

Kinkaku-ji (the more popular name for its actual name Rokuon-ji – 鹿苑寺) is one of the most famous temples in Japan and a definite must-see on you Kyoto bucket list. The awe-inspiring sight of the richly decorated golden temple that seems to float over the mirror pond is worth a visit to Kyōto alone. In combination with the numerous islands and pine trees, it looks almost surreal.

The estate was originally constructed as a retirement pavilion by the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397, it was turned into a Zen temple after Yoshimitsus death in 1408. During the Onin war (1467-77) the buildings and garden of Rokuon-ji faced the same fate as many other temples in Kyōto – they were completely destroyed by fire. Fortunately the pavilion survived the fire and the rest of the garden was restored. In 1950 the pavilion was burnt down by a young novice monk and needed to be rebuild in 1955. It was rebuilt very close to the original, although more parts of the pavilion received a leaf gold coating on the inside and outside.

The garden is an extraordinary example of a Japanese strolling garden of the Muromachi period. A path leads around the pond, offering great viewing axes and photo spots to take beautiful pictures of the temple.

If you come early, you can avoid the crowds, but have to share the garden with school children of all ages from all over Japan. A visit usually takes between 30 and 50 minutes. You can also have a cup of Matcha tea and traditional Japanese sweet (Wagashi 和菓子) in the garden.

Contents
  • Introduction
  • Historical Background
  • History of the Temple and the Garden
  • Buildings and Garden
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Questions for Hayano-San
  • Eating and Drinking
  • Directions

11 pages
19 illustrations
17 MB
2012


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Directions

How to get there
Bus: Take the bus 101 or 205 and get off at the stop ’Kinkaku-ji’. From Tokyo Station it takes around 40 minutes and costs 220 yen.
Subway: Take the Karasuma line to Kitaō-ji station. From there you can take a taxi (10min and 900 yen) or the bus 101, 102, 204 or 205 (10 min, 220 yen).

Address EN: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Kinkaku-ji-Chō 1
Address JP: 〒603-8361, 京都府京都市 北区 金閣寺町1
Tel: 075-461-0013

Admission
400 yen

Opening hours
9:00am to 5:00pm
Gardens