Tenryu-Ji Temple in Sagano, Kyoto

A Chisen-kaiyu-shiki (pond-stroll) garden with Sogen-chi pond and Shakkei (borrowed scenery). Please note that three photos are merged into this one and the perspective is different from the actual view. The photos were taken on November 28, 2008
More photos.

Tenryu-ji is in the middle of Sagano/Arashiyama district that is one of the most popular areas among visitors to Kyoto. The Zen Buddhist temple has an excellent Chisen-kaiyu-shiki (pond-stroll) garden that was laid out by a garden designer of genius, Muso Soseki (Muso Kokushi, or the Most Reverend Priest Muso, 1275-1351). Sogen-chi pond and Ishigumi (arranged rocks) in the garden are very much worth to see. Mt. Arashiyama and Mt. Kameyama are designed into the garden as Shakkei (borrowed scenery).

Tenryu-ji is the head temple of the Tenryu-ji branch of Rinzai Zen sect and one of 17 World Cultural Heritage sites of Kyoto.

History

Empress Tachibana-no-Kachiko (786-850), the consort of Emperor Saga (786-842), founded a big convent called Danrin-ji some time in Jowa era (834-848) in this place. In the middle of Heian period (794-1192) the convent fell into ruin. Retired emperor Go-saga (1220-1272) built a detached palace called Kameyama-dono on the deserted convent site. Kameyama-dono was inherited by Emperor Kameyama (1249-1305) and his grandson Emperor Go-daigo (1288-1339).

In the year 1339, Priest Muso Soseki made a proposal to the first Muromachi Shogun, Ashikaga Takauji (1305-1358) and his brother Tadayoshi (1306-1352) about establishing a temple for the late emperor Go-Daigo, who had initially coordinated with the samurai brothers to overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate and then changed to be the deadly enemy of them. They agreed with the priest but the newly-established Shogunate government did not have enough money so that they had to start trade with China to make funds for building the temple.

In the year 1345, the Zen temple was officially founded with Muso Soseki being the first head priest. The buildings of the temple suffered fires several times during its history. The present O-Hojo building was rebuilt in 1899 followed by other buildings.

How to get to Tenryu-ji

  • 13 to 19 minutes from Kyoto station to Saga-Arashiyama station on JR railway San'in Honsen line. Then 10 minutes on foot.
  • 45 minutes from Kyoto station to Arashiyama-Tenryu-ji-mae on Kyoto City Bus No. 28 and 1 minute on foot.
  • 15 minutes on foot from Arashiyama station of Hankyu Railway Arashiyama Line.
  • 3 minutes on foot from Arashiyama station of Keifuku Railway Arashiyama Line.

Hours and Admission

April to October: 8:30-17:30. The entrance gate will be closed at 17:00.
November to March 8:30-17:00. The entrance gate will be closed at 16:30.

All except those listed below: 500 yen
Schoolchildren and Junior High School Students (1st to 9th graders): 300 yen
Children under school age: free

Additional 100 yen is required to enter Buildings.

Photos / Pictures

Click on a photo for a larger image.

Somon, the front gate of Tenryu-ji.
February 16, 2008
Chumon, the middle gate.
November 28, 2008
A stone bridge over Hojo-chi pond.
February 16, 2008
The belfry of Tenryu-ji.
November 28, 2008
Karesansui, or Dry Landscape garden of Tenryu-ji.
November 28, 2008
O-Hojo building and Karesansui garden.
November 28, 2008
The garden with Autumn colors seen from a tatami room of O-Hojo.
November 28, 2008
The snowy garden of Tenryu-ji seen from a tatami room of O-Hojo.
February 16, 2008
Sogen-chi pond and O-Hojo. Arashiyama is used as shakkei (borrowed scenery) object.
November 28, 2008
Close-up view of the peninsula of Sogen-chi pond.
November 28, 2008
Left side of Sogen-chi pond
November 28, 2010
On the far left of the Sogen-chi pond (in the middle of the photo) is a stone bridge.
November 28, 2008
A waterfall and Sogen-chi pond A waterfall
In the center of the opposite bank of Sogen-chi is a waterfall.
November 28, 2010
A close-up view of Ishigumi (arranged stones) that represent a waterfall. In front of the dry waterfall is a three-span stone bridge.
November 28, 2008
A close-up view of the oldest stone bridge of Japanese garden.
November 28, 2010
Reflection of colored leavs in Sogen-chi pond Sogenchi and shakkei
A group of stone arranged in the pond. These stones are set beside the waterfall.
November 28, 2008
A reflection of colored leaves in the water of Sogen-chi pond.
November 28, 2010
Sogen-chi pond and Mt. Arashiyama as shakkei.
November 28, 2010
A peninsula
A peninsula.
November 28, 2010
Right hand side of Sogen-chi pond.
November 28, 2008
An Islet in Sogen-chi.
November 28, 2008
Autumn leaves
A stone bridge to an islet in Sogenchi pond.
February 16, 2008
Sogen-chi pond and Ko-Hojo building.
November 28, 2010
Autumn leaves and a bamboo grove.
November 28, 2010
Picture of Daruma (Bodhidharma) in a room of Ko-Hojo (Shoin). The Indian Buddhist monk is credited to be the founder of Zen Buddhism. He transmitted Zen to China.
February 16, 2008
A roofed passage that connects Ko-Hojo (Shoin) and Taho-den buildings.
February 16, 2008
Inside of Taho-den building.
November 28, 2008
A figure of Emperor Go-Daigo that is enshrined in Taho-den building.
November 28, 2008
Colored leaves on a hill beyond Taho-den.
November 28, 2008
Stepping stones.
November 28, 2008