Zuisen-ji (Flower Temple)(瑞泉寺 (花寺))

Zuisen-ji is a small temple hidden away in the eastern mountains of Kamakura. The temple’s nickname is ‘flower temple’ and its flower garden in the front of the temple is the most beautiful in Kamakura. It is a branch of the Engaku-ji temple in Kita-Kamakura. Zen priest, poet and garden designer Musō Soseki founded the temple with the support of Nikaidō Dōun, a powerful lord of the Yamanashi area in 1327.

After walking up the steep way to the temple, you can enjoy a breathtaking outlook on the surrounding mountains while resting under a wisteria arbor. This spot is especially famous in autumn when the mountain forests turn a bright yellow, orange and red. The garden seems enchanted – it has lots of gnarled, moss covered trees, overgrowing flowering shrubs and scattered perennials that partially cover old stone lanterns and garden stones.

The rock zen garden in the back was created by its founder and garden designer Musō Soseki. A cave and a pond with islands were carved from the rock of the mountains. Closed for the public, a steeply ascending passageway leads up to the to a meditation arbor and view point.

The temples mountain name (San-go 山号) is Kinpei-zan (錦屏山). The direct translation is Brocade-Wall-Mountain. Zuisen-ji received it because the near mountains around the temple (like a wall) glow bright like brocade in autumn, when the leaves change their colors.

Contents of the eBook
  • Introduction
  • Historical background – Fall of the Kamakura Shogunate and beginning of the Muromachi period
  • History of the temple
  • Musō Soseki
  • The temple and garden – Ichiran-tei, Zen rock garden, Yagura
  • Plants in the garden
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Eating and Drinking
  • How to get there
  • Literature

14 pages
51 illustrations
27.4 MB

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Directions

How to get there
Zuisen-ji is located in the far east of Kamakura, rather distant from Kamakura Station.

On foot: It takes about 45-50 minutes to reach Zuisen-ji by foot from Kamakura Station or about 30 minutes from Hachimangu Shrine. The temple can also be reached via the attractive Tenen hiking trail which starts at Kencho-ji and leads through the wooded hills north of Kamakura in about 60-90 minutes.

By bus: The closest bus station to Zuisen-ji is located at Kamakura-gu Shrine. Take the bus 鎌20 towards Ōtō-nomiya 大塔宮 (鎌倉宮Kamakura-Gu ) from bus stop number 4. Get of at the last stop and walk from there about 10-15 minutes.

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

Admission
200 Yen

Address
EN: 710 Nikaidō, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0002
JP: 神奈川県鎌倉市二階堂710
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

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

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

Ōbai-in (Daitoku-ji)(黄梅院)

Ōbai-in is one of the secret sub-temples of Daitoku-ji and has one of Japan’s best-designed Japanese gardens. It is only open for a few weeks in November, which is also the best time for visiting.

The temple was founded in 1562 as Ōbai-an (黄梅庵). Tea master and garden designer Sen no Rikyu (at that time 62 years old) is said to have designed the moss-covered garden. It features a Sanzonseki (stone arrangement in form of a Buddhist triad) and a small pond in the shape of a gourd. There is also an unusually shaped lantern brought by daimyo Kato Kiyomasa from his infamous campaign against Korea.

The Kuri is one of the oldest in Japan, and the paintings on the sliding doors (“Seven sages of the bamboo grove”, painted by Unkoku Togan) have survived from the 16th century until today.

Sen no Rikyu is said to have conducted tea ceremonies in one of the tea rooms of the Shoin (study) called Sakumuken (The dream of last night).

If you have a chance to visit this temple in November, make every effort to do so as it has one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan.

Contents of the book
  • Introduction
  • Daitoku-ji
  • History of Ōbai-in
  • Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi

  • Buildings
  • Hondō (Fusuma-e)
  • Shoin
  • Kuri
  • Shōro
  • Kōshin-in
  • Graves

  • Teahouses
  • Fudo-ken
  • Sakumu-ken
  • Kōshun-an
  • Isshi-an

  • Gates
  • Karamon
  • Omotemon

  • Gardens
  • Entry garden
  • Sabutsu-tei
  • Kanza-tei
  • Jikichu-tei
  • Hatō-tei

Anika’s Impressions
Recommendations around Obai-in
How to get there

12 pages
19 pictures of the temple and gardens
10MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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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 Kōrin-in is available.)

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

Opening hours
Open only in late November/ early December, and in spring, between 9:00am – 4:30pm
Gardens

Nanzen-ji(南禅寺)

Nanzen-ji is the name of a temple and the surrounding temple complex at the foot of Kyoto’s eastern mountains (Higashi-yama). It was built in the Heian period (794-1185) on the grounds of Tennō Kameyama’s detached palace. The emperor was in favor of Zen Buddhism and supported the relatively new religion, introducing it to the aristocratic circles. It is the head temple of the Nanzen-ji branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Of special importance is the dry landscape garden (kare-sansui) in front of the Hōjō, the head priest’s quarters. The fusuma-e, the paintings on wooden sliding doors, are also impressive. They have been painted by painters of the famous Kanō school.

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Directions

The most beautiful way to get to Nanzen-ji is to walk the picturesque Philosopher’s path, which connects Nanzen-ji and Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion.

As for the subway, Keage Station on the Tozai line is a short 7-10 minute walk away. If you prefer to go by bus, take bus number 5 and get off at Nanzenji-Eikando-michi.

How to get there
Take city bus number 5 and get off the bus at the Nanzen-ji bus stop. Walk about 10 minutes in eastern direction.

Address
Nanzenji-Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city
京都市左京区南禅寺福地町

Telephone
075-771-0365

Opening hours
December-February: 8:40am – 4:30pm
March-November: 8:40am – 5pm

The temple is closed from December 28th to 31st.

Admission
500 Yen

Gardens