Tenryu-ji Temple

Kyoto, Kansai

The first-ranked of the Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto. Its garden is a fine blend of aristocratic tradition and Zen culture, displaying the beauty of the four seasons.

Tenryu-ji is located in Ukyo-ku, Kyoto. As he toppled the shogunal regime in Kamakura and established a new one in Kyoto, Ashikaga Takauji built this temple in 1339 in memory of Emperor Godaigo. The first head of this majestic temple was a noted priest by the name of Muso Soseki (Muso Kokushi). Although the temple no longer boasts its former magnificence, the Sogenchi-teien, or Tenryu-ji Garden, a garden designated by the Japanese government a special historic and scenic site, still retains vestiges of how it appeared when the temple was established.

The Tenryu-ji Temple Garden is said to have been built by the founder of the temple, Muso Soseki. The garden is arranged so that visitors can enjoy the changing scenery while walking around the Sogenchi Pond in its center. The scenery of two hills – Kame-yama and Arashi-yama – both of which are located outside the garden, form part of the composition. This technique of making use of the surrounding landscape in garden design is known as shakkei. Stonework on a hill at the back of the pond symbolizes a mountain stream cascading into the pond. There are also stones symbolizing carp. This idea stems from a traditional Chinese fable in which a carp swims up a waterfall to become the more superior dragon. Among the gardens designed by master gardener Muso Soseki, this garden is believed to be the least changed and is considered one of the most exquisite of all Japanese gardens.


68 Saga-Tenryuji-Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Admission Fee
500 yen (regular fee)
[Rail]JR Kyoto Station/Sagano Line/21 min./Saga-Arashiyama Station/On foot/10 min.[Bus]JR Kyoto Station/Bus/33 min./Arashiyama-Tenryuji-mae Bus Stop/On foot/2 min.

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