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

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.

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

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

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

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

Meigetsu-in(明月院)

Every year in June, after the rain season has begun, and the air gets hot and damp, thousands of visitors from Tokyo and Kamakura surge to the Meigetsu-in temple in Kita-Kamakura. This is the time, when the temple’s ajisai (紫陽花), the hydrangeas, are in full bloom and look their best.

Meigetsu-in is now a temple of the Rinzai Zen school of Buddhism. It was founded in 1383 (Muromachi period) by Uesugi Norikata, a powerful statesman of the Uesugi clan.

Apart from the hydrangea, which gave the temple its nickname Ajisai-dera (紫陽花寺), it is famous for an excellent dry landscape garden and the round windows of the main temple buildings. Like all Kamakura gardens, it is also beautiful in autumn when the leaves change color.

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Directions

How to get there:
Meigetsu-in is a 10 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura station on the JR Yokosuka Line, one station before Kamakura station when coming from Tokyo.

Admission
300 Yen, in June 500 Yen

Opening hours
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
in June 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

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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eBook coming…

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/

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

Hōkoku-ji(報国寺)

Hōkoku-ji is a small Zen temple in Kamakura, world-famous for its bamboo grove of more than 2000 Mōsō bamboos. It is also called Take-dera (Bamboo temple) for that reason.

The temple was founded in 1334, a time of turbulence and unrest in Japan. The Kamakura shogunate had just been defeated, and the first Ashikaga shogun Takauji established his rule in Kyoto. Takauji’s grandfather, Ashikaga Ietoki, ordered Zen priest Tengan Ekō to found Hōkoku-ji. Just as the famous garden designer and Zen priest Musō Kokushi, Tengan was a disciple of priest Mugaku Sogen, the founding priest of Engaku-ji in Kita-Kamakura.

This temple became the family temple of the Ashikaga clan as well as the Uesugi clan. Both families shared the power in Kamakura. In 1439, the temple became the scene of a family drama: Shogun Yoshinori attacked Kamakura to re-establish his power in the east. The Kamakura ruler, Ashikaga Mochiuji and his son Yoshihisa were forced to kill themselves to escape capture. Hōkoku-ji is the place the 13 year old Yoshihisa chose for the ritual suicide by disembowelment better known as Seppuku (切腹) or Harakiri (腹切り) .

After the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, most buildings had to be rebuilt – none of the original structures remain. Still, old stone lanterns, gorinto gravestones and the yagura tomb caves make the thousand year old past come alive.

There is a small tea house hidden away behind the cool bamboo grove. For 600 yen, visitors receive a bowl of powdered green tea and traditional Japanese sweets. The carefully maintained Zen garden behind the main hall is also a nice place to rest and take in the atmosphere.

Contents of the eBook:
  • Introduction
  • History of the temple
  • Stone Lanterns, gorinto and Buddha statues
  • Bamboo in the garden
  • Plants in the garden
  • The Zen garden
  • The Tea garden
  • Yagura


12 pages filled with all necessary information about the garden and packed with
47 excellent garden pictures
8MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Directions

How to get there
Take the bus 鎌23 from the Kamakura main station. After 6 stops (about 8 min), get off at the bus stop Jōmyō-ji (浄明寺). From the bus stop, walk a few meters back, cross the street and walk straight ahead until you get to the gate of Hōkoku-ji temple.

Opening Times
9am – 4pm

Admission
300 yen for the bamboo garden

Address
7-4, Jomyoji 2-chome, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0003