Hamarikyū Teien  (浜離宮恩賜庭園)

The Hamarikyū garden is a large strolling garden directly next to Tokyo bay. It was built by the shogun Tokugawa in the Edo period (1603-1868). The garden’s ponds are connected to the Tokyo bay so the water level of the ponds changed with the tide. Large parts of the garden were reed fields, and the southern garden was used by the Shogun’s family for falconry and duck hunting.

With the Meiji Restauration in 1868, the Tokugawa shogunate fell and the imperial family built a detached villa on the grounds of the garden. This is also where the garden’s name comes from – Hama (浜) means “beach”, “seashore”; and rikyū (離宮) means “detached palace”. Teien (庭園) is a word for “garden” or “park”.

The garden has meandering ponds interconnected by little streams. There is a tea house on the middle island (中島 – Nakashima) of the southern pond, a plum grove (visit in late February to March), a 300-year-old pine tree and a field of wildflowers (cosmea and rape flowers). It is a nice garden to take a long walk. Because the garden is large, you rarely meet other visitors.

A free audio guide in English is available at the ticket gates – it has several guided tours, but it also allows you to roam around freely and just gives you information when you come to an important part of the garden.

Contents:
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Buildings
  • Bridges
  • Mountains
  • Highlights
  • Flowers
  • Anikas Impressions
  • Around Hamarikyū garden


20 pages full of information about the Hamarikyū garden
38 pictures of the gardens

PDF 27MB

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Directions

How to get there
To get to Hamarikyu gardens, take the Yamanote line to Shinbashi (新橋駅) or the Oedo line to Shiodome(汐留駅)。Walk eastwards from there.
There is also the possibility to go by boat from Asakusa to the garden. But since the boat is quite low, often you don’t see more than the quay walls. The entrance fee to the garden is included in the fare.

Address
東京都中央区浜離宮庭園1-1
1-1 Hamarikyu Teien, Chuo, Tokyo

Telephone
03-3541-0200 ‎

Admission
300 Yen

Opening hours
9am – 5pm (last entry at 4:30pm)

Closed around New Year between December 29th and January 1st.

The Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji)(銀閣寺 (慈照寺))

The second most famous temple in Kyōto and little brother of Kinkaku-ji is the Ginkaku-ji on the eastern hills of Kyōto. It was built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the grandson of the founder of Kinkaku-ji. While the Kinkaku-ji sparkles brightly in its golden coating, the Ginkaku-ji was planned to be covered completely in leaf silver.

However, due to the Ōnin war (1477-87) and the shōguns pursuit of perfection, construction of the estate was postponed again and again and might be the reason that the silver coating was never applied. During renovation works in 2008 it was considered to coat the temple in silver just as it was intended to be, but after a long discussion, the temple’s board came to the conclusion that the concept of Wabi-Sabi is conved better with a wooden temple. As his grandfather Yoshimitsu, Yoshimasa planned to live in this palace after his retirement, isolated from the everyday life outside. Yoshimasa is said to have spent several years on planning the estate, and even chose the stones used for the pond garden himself.

Looking at the pictures of the temple and garden, how would you have planned a villa and garden on this estate if you had the opportunity? While being a less than strong political leader, Yoshimasa was said to be an aesthete, a lover of culture, tea ceremony and a big supporter of Zen Buddhism, even a highly ranked zen practitioner. Envision him taking walks in the garden, enjoying a tea prepared by his tea master or sitting quietly in meditation with a view on the garden.

Contents:
  • Introduction
  • Historical Background – The Muromachi period and Ashikaga Yoshimasa
  • History of the temple and the Garden
  • Buildings and garden
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Omiyage from Kyoto
  • How to get there


10 pages
30 illustrations
11 MB

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Directions

How to get there
Bus: From Kyōto station, take bus number 5, 17 or 100 and get off at the Ginkaku-ji bus stop (35min, 220yen).
By foot: If you prefer to experience Kyōto by foot, take a walk on the pittoresque Philosopher’s Path (30min from Nanzen-ji).

Address
EN: 〒606-8402, Sakyō-Ku, Ginkaku-ji-Chō 2
JP: 〒606-8402, 京都市左京区銀閣寺町2

Tel
075-771-5725

Opening hours
8:30am-5pm (Mar-Nov)
9am-4:30pm (Dec-Feb)

Admission
500 Yen

Ninna-ji  (仁和寺)

Ninna-ji is one of Kyoto’s oldest temples. It was founded in 888 (Heian period) by emperor Oda. From that time on until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), the position of the temple’s head priest was always held by a son of a reigning emperor. Naturally, the temple was the center of the tennō’s supporters, but lost influence under the ruling of the Muromachi shogunate in the Muromachi period.

It burned down completely during the Ōnin war, but was rebuilt between 1641 and 1646. The garden in front of the Shinden was rebuilt in 1914. It has a pond and can be viewed from the veranda. The buildings are all connected with covered walkways that are characteristic for Shinden style architecture, the architecture of palaces and aristocratic residences in the Heian period (794-1185).

Although Ninna-ji is really close to tourist magnets like Ryoan-ji and Myoshin-ji, it has significantly less visitors. The buildings and gardens are well-maintained and some superior artwork is on display on the sliding doors in the study room.

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Directions

How to get there
Kyoto, Ukyo-ku, Ouchi Omuro 33
Take the Kyoto city bus 8, 10, 26 or 59 to the stop Omuro-Ninna-ji and walk in northern direction.

Address
JP: 〒616−8092 京都府京都市右京区御室大内33
EN: 33 Omuroouchi,Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 〒616-8092

Admission
500 Yen

Opening hours
9am – 4.30pm (Dec – Feb)
9am – 5pm (Mar – Nov)

Shōsei-en (Kikoku-tei)  (渉成園)

Shōsei-en is a garden that belongs to Higashi-Hongan-ji, the big temple of the True Pure Land School of Buddhism just north of Kyoto station. The garden is said to have belonged to the residence of the son of tennō Saga and was built in the early Heian period (794-1185). The pond most likely remained from the original design. The garden we see today, was laid out in 1641 after the shogun Tokugawa donated the land to the Hongan-ji. The garden design was probably realized by the intellectual Ichikawa Jozan and artist, tea master and aristocrat Kobori Enshu,

The garden has a pond and some tea houses, cherry trees that are a visitor magnet in spring. It is just a few meters away from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto station. While you can still hear the cars and see some of the surrounding buildings, it is good to see that these beautiful places do exist in modern Kyoto.

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Directions

How to get there
Shōsei-en is not far from the Kyoto station. Take the north exit and walk one block north and then another block in eastern direction. It will take aproximately 7 minutes. You can also take the city bus number 5 to Kawaramachi Shomen.

Admission
500 Yen donation is recommended

Opening hours
9am – 4pm, last entry 3:30pm

Address
Kyoto-Shi, Shimogyo-Ku, Aidanocho-higashiiru, Shimojuzuyamachi-dori, Higashitamamizu-cho 300

Tōji-in  (等持院)

Tōji-in is another garden attributed to garden designer and Zen priest Musō Soseki. The first Shogun of the Muromachi period, Ashikaga Takauji, built this temple and had Musō Soseki design it. This rather small and secret temple is the family temple of the Ashikaga clan and all of the Ashikaga shoguns are buried here. In the Reikō-den, 15 wooden statues of the Ashikaga shogun and one statue of the following shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu are lined up. Their faces, especially their eyes look incredibly realistic.

In the western garden, there is a pond, a strolling path around it, and a tea house on top of an artificial hill. Before the neighboring university was built, the northern mountains formed the backdrop of the garden. The eastern part of the garden has a lot of trees and winding ways around the pond, so that the visitor loses orientation before the path leads him back to the main buildings.

This garden is one of the calmest, less frequented gardens in Kyoto and perfect for a break. There is also green tea being served on the veranda with a great view on the garden.

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Directions

How to get there
Take the bus number 205 from Kyoto station towards Kujoshako-mae. After 19 stops and 37 minutes, get off at the Kinugasako-mae (衣笠校前) bus stop. Then walk 900 meter in towards the west to get to Tōji-in.

Opening times
9am-5pm

Admission
500 Yen 

Address
北区等持院北町63
Kyoto-fu, Kita-ku, Tōji-in, Kitamachi 63

Taizō-in (Myōshin-ji)  (退蔵院)

Taizo-in is a small Zen Buddhism temple located in northwestern Kyoto on the quiet and spacious grounds of Myoshin-ji. With its beautiful gardens and treasures of Japanese art, Taizo-in is the oldest and most famous sub-temples of the Myoshin-ji complex. It was founded in 1404 and the gardens are said to have been designed by the painter Kano Motonobu in the Muromachi period.

Taizo-in is open to receive and educate international visitors about Zen culture. Here you can experience Zen meditation, tea ceremony, calligraphy, and temple-stay with a friendly and dedicated staff.

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Directions

How to get there

Take the JR Sanin Main line from Kyoto station (platform 32 or 33) towards Sonobe (園部). After 11 minutes, get off at Hanazono station (花園). From there, walk back 500 meters in north-eastern direction to get to the Myoshin-ji temple complex.

Opening times
9am – 5pm

Admission
500 yen

Address
京都市右京区花園妙心寺町35
Kyoto-shi, Ukyo-ku, Hanazono Myoshin-ji-cho 35

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

Kajū-ji  (勧修寺)

Kajū-ji、sometimes pronounced as Kanshu-ji, is the head temple of the Yamashina school of Shingon Buddhism. It was founded in year 900 (Heian period) by the emperor Daigo.

The garden has a large island pond with a great number of water lilies, iris and lotus. It is said that the ice of this pond had been collected on January 2nd of every year to be send to the Imperial Palace. Another feature of the garden is an uncommonly shaped stone lantern.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Tokaido/Sanyo line from platform 11 or 12 towards Omishiotsu. Get off the train after 5 minutes at the first stop Yamashina (山科) and change to the Tozai line towards Rokujizo (六地蔵). After 3 stops (6 minutes), you will arrive at Ono station (小野). From there, walk west, cross the river and you will get to the temple within 7 minutes.

Opening times
9am – 4pm

Admission
400 Yen

Address
京都府京都市山科区勧修寺仁王堂町27-6

Namikawa-ke  (並河家)

Nowadays, the Namikawa residence is a museum of Cloisonné objects by the artist Namikawa. He used to live and work in this house. Because he became internationally successful after exhibiting at the World Fair in Paris in 1878 and 1889, he often had foreign guests staying at his house. For that reason, he built the sliding doors higher than usual and also used a lot of glass instead of paper screens. The garden of the Namikawa-ke is rather small, but well maintained and beautiful.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the city bus number 100 and get off after 7 stops at Higashiyama-Sanjo (東山三条). Walk east for around 300 meters. After you cross the small stream, turn left and walk one block north. Teh museum should be on your left side.

Opening times
10am – 4:30pm

Admission
600 Yen

Address
東山区三条通北裏白川筋東入堀池町388 
Higashiyama-Ku, Sanjo-dori, Urajiro-Kawasuji Horiike-cho 388

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 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:
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
mobi 23MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF and mobi.

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Shōren-in Trailer
Watch the Shōren-in trailer here.

RJG presents: Shōren-in from Real Japanese Gardens on Vimeo.

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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
7am to 5pm