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Nanzenji Temple

Art, elaborate gardens and a giant gate await at this temple that stands tall as one of the most important of its kind in the country.

Tourists gather at the Nanzenji Zen Buddhist temple nestled at the foot of the Higashiyama Mountains. It is known throughout Japan for its spiritual importance as the head of a branch of Rinzai Zen. The shrine, which is decorated by multicolored trees, is packed full of antique paintings and ornate gardens.

Gaze up at the 72-foot-high (22-meter) Sanmon Gate. From the balcony at the top of the gate, take vibrant photos of the green, orange and red foliage with a mountainous landscape beyond them. Marvel at the 124 sliding-door paintings from the Kano school of art. Many of the works portray tigers. Visit in the fall to make the most of the changing colors of the leaves.

Find yourself in the elegant Hojo Garden. It consists of rocks, small pebbles and sand. The Tsuiji Wall surrounding the grounds is made from mud. The particular arrangement of the stones is known as the “mother tiger and her cubs crossing a river.” Admire a charming waterfall from the tearoom. Check out the Lake Biwa aqueduct from the late 19th century within the temple’s grounds. Visit one of the complex’s 12 sub-temples, which include Nanzen-in, Konchi-in and Tenjuan.

Originally a retirement home for an emperor in the 13th century, the building was later converted into a Zen temple. There is a fee to enter the gardens and certain buildings, although the temple precincts are free. The complex is closed annually for the last few days of December.

Nanzenji Temple is located in the northeastern sector of the city. The nearest subway station is Keage, which is on the Tozai Line. It is only a few minutes away on foot. The Nanzenji-Eikando-michi bus stop is close. These transportation links can be accessed easily from Kyoto Station. Nearby sites include the Philosopher’s Walk, Konchi-in Temple and Okazaki Park.


Guide to Exploring around Nanzenji Temple


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Kyoto Yura Hotel - MGallery ¥14,545
Kyoto Yura Hotel - MGallery

Kyoto Yura Hotel - MGallery

84 OHASHICHO, Kyoto
     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Higashiyama, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Nishiki Market and Chion-in Temple. Heian Shrine and Kyoto Imperial Palace are also within 2 mi (3 km). Sanjo Keihan Station and Sanjo Station are within a 2-minute walk.

    Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI ¥58,000
    Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI

    Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI

    31 Fukuchi-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Sakyo Ward, this ryokan is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Heian Shrine and within 3 mi (5 km) of Kiyomizu Temple and Kyoto Imperial Palace. Sanjusangendo Temple and Nijō Castle are also within 3 mi (5 km). Keage Station is 7 minutes by foot and Higashiyama Station is 13 minutes.

      Park Hyatt Kyoto ¥86,700
      Park Hyatt Kyoto

      Park Hyatt Kyoto

      360 Kodaiji Masuyacho, Higashiyama, Kyoto
         
        4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Higashiyama, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Hokanji Temple and Kodaiji Temple. Kiyomizu Temple and Gion Corner are also within 15 minutes. Higashiyama Station is 19 minutes by foot and Gion-shijo Station is 16 minutes.

        Kyoto Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo ¥38,291
        Kyoto Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo

        Kyoto Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo

        34 Nanzenji Fukuji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Sakyo Ward, this luxury ryokan is steps from Murin-an and Konchi-in Temple. Kyoto Municipal Zoo and Nanzenji Temple are also within 10 minutes. Keage Station is 5 minutes by foot and Higashiyama Station is 11 minutes.

          The Westin Miyako Kyoto ¥38,400
          The Westin Miyako Kyoto

          The Westin Miyako Kyoto

          1 Awataguchi Kachocho, Higashiyama, Kyoto, Kyoto
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Higashiyama, this romantic hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Shoren-in Temple and Nanzenji Temple. Yasaka Shrine and Heian Shrine are also within 1 mi (2 km). Keage Station is only a 3-minute walk and Higashiyama Station is 9 minutes.

            Ryokan KANADE ¥11,818
            Ryokan KANADE

            Ryokan KANADE

            1-2, Okazaki Hoshojicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Sakyo Ward, this ryokan is within a 10-minute walk of Kyoto Municipal Zoo and Heian Shrine. Kyoto University and Nanzenji Temple are also within 1 mi (2 km). Keage Station is 12 minutes by foot and Higashiyama Station is 15 minutes.

              Aoi Philosophers Path Villa
              Aoi Philosophers Path Villa

              Aoi Philosophers Path Villa

              10 Nanzenji, Kitanobo-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Sakyo Ward, this vacation home is within a 10-minute walk of Eikando Temple and Nanzenji Temple. Heian Shrine and Philosopher's Walk are also within 1 mi (2 km). Keage Station is 19 minutes by foot and Higashiyama Station is 26 minutes.

                Hotel Heian No Mori Kyoto ¥6,108
                Hotel Heian No Mori Kyoto

                Hotel Heian No Mori Kyoto

                51, Okazaki, Higashi Tenno-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Sakyo Ward, this hotel is steps from Okazaki Shrine and Okazaki Betsuin. Sen-oku Hakuko Kan and Konkaikomyo-ji Temple are also within 5 minutes. Keage Station is 14 minutes by foot and Higashiyama Station is 18 minutes.