Nanzen-ji, one of the big Zen temples in Kyoto, is a headquarters of Nanzen-ji sect of Rinzai Buddhism. The temple once was the highest ranked Zen temple in Japan. O-Hojo and Ko-Hojo buildings are national treasures. Fusuma-e (Shoheki-ga) paintings in the two buildings were painted by Kano Tanyu, Kano Eitoku, and Kano Motonobu. The Zen temple is also famous for its Karesansui garden that is said to have been laid out by Kobori Enshu (1579-1647).
History of Nanzen-ji
The temple originally was a detached palace of Emperor Kameyama, which was built in the year 1264. Later he became a student of a Zen Master, Busshin Daimin Kokushi，and he dedicated the palace to Zen Buddhism in 1291.
Emperor Go-Daigo ranked Nanzen-ji and Daitoku-ji 1st among the five major temples in 1334. Other three included Tofuku-ji and Ken'nin-ji. In the year 1385 Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu ranked Nanzen-ji above the five temples so as to place Shokoku-ji the 1st among the five temples.
Main buildings were lost by fire and rebuilt in 1393 and 1447. In the year 1467, all of the buildings were reduced to ashes by fires of war and they had to wait until 1605, when Ishin Suden became the chief priest of the temple, to be able to rebuild the buildings.
How to get to Nanzen-ji
- 34 minutes by Kyoto City Bus No. 5 from Kyoto Station to Hoshoji-machi bus stop or Nanzen-ji-Eikan-do-mae Bus stop then 5 minutes on foot, or
- 5 minutes on foot from Keage station of subway Tozai line.
Hours and Admission
Except following: 8:40-17:00
December 1 - December 27 and January 1 - End of February: 8:40-16:30
December 28-31: Closed.
Admission ends 20 minutes before closing time.
All except following: 500 yen
High school students: 400 yen
Elementary school and junior high school students (1st to 9th graders): 300 yen
Children under school age: free
Same amount as Hojo.
Click on a photo for full image.