Tofuku-ji Temple

Tofuku-ji Temple © Iry

About Tofuku-ji Temple

Tofuku-ji is a Rinzai Zen temple acting as the head temple of the Tofuku-ji faction, and was built by then-influential Kujo Michie in 1236. He invited the monk Shoichi Kokushi to build this temple as his family temple. The garden was made by the famous Shigemori Mirei and is done in a style of a checkerboarding moss and stone pattern. It is famous for the 2,000 trees here that turn beautiful colors in autumn. The temple’s name comes from the fact that the temple was built in a style similar to Nara’s Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji temples. It is one of the Kyoto Gozan (5 most important Rinzai temples in Kyoto) and is famous for its beautiful monastery that was built over the course of the 19th century. The temple was destroyed by repeated war and fire in 1881 but it was rebuilt every time. During the early Muromachi period(1336–1573)the reconstructed Sanmon gate is now known as the oldest currently existing Sanmon belonging to a Zen temple and is a national treasure. The 14th century Zazen Dojo’s Zendo and Tousu (toilet) remain today as a reminder of the days of long past at this temple.

The garden of Tofuku-ji

The center of Tofuku-ji is the "Hojo" where the priests lived, and on all sides there are 4 different gardens, which are referred to as the Hasso-no-niwa. In 1939 everything in the garden was recycled to stay true to Shigenori Mirei and the Buddhist teaching that "not a single thing should be wasted". The most famous is the northern garden "Ichimatsu-no-niwa" where square stones are interlaced with moss to create a checkerboard pattern. The western garden is named "Seiden-no-niwa" and it too has a checkerboard pattern made out of clipped satsuki bushes and stones. The eastern garden is called the Hokutu-no-niwa due to the fact that it in the Shirakawa sand here there are stones arranged like the Big Dipper (the Big Dipper’s name in Japanese is Hokuto-shichisei). There are hedges representing the Milky Way behind it. The west garden is also a stone and sand garden, a dry landscape garden that incorporates moss into it, and is designed after the Hourai Shinsen school of thought, with the 4 islands representing the 4 islands of Hourai where hermits lived. Also on the grounds between the Butsu-den and the Kaisando is the valley named Sengyokukan and the bridge named Tsutenkyo going over this is famous as an autumn leaves viewing spot. There are around 2000 maples in the valley and these beautiful maples are said to have been brought back by Seiichi Kokushi from the Song Dynasty.


On the JR Nara and Keihan Main Lines go to Tofuku-ji Station (東福寺駅) and then walk southeast for 10 minutes. On the city bus get off at Tokufu-ji Stop and you’re right there. Open hours are from 9:00 to 16:00. From November to December the opening time is 8:30, and from December to March the closing time is 15:00. Also, Tsutenkyo bridge, Kaisando, and the gardens each have an entrance fee of 400 yen.

Image Gallery: Tofuku-ji Temple

Description: Tofuku-ji Temple

Sights Tofuku-ji Temple (東福寺)
Address 778 Honmachi 15-chōme, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu
Phone / Fax Phone: 075-561-0087 / Fax: 075-533-0621
Duration 40Minutes
Business Hours Monday:09:00-16:30 (Last entry by: 16:00)
Tuesday:09:00-16:30 (Last entry by: 16:00)
Wednesday:09:00-16:30 (Last entry by: 16:00)
Thursday:09:00-16:30 (Last entry by: 16:00)
Friday:09:00-16:30 (Last entry by: 16:00)
Saturday:09:00-16:30 (Last entry by: 16:00)
Sunday:09:00-16:30 (Last entry by: 16:00)
Admission Fee Free admission
Recommended Season
Spring (March - May)
Summer (June - August) Autumn (September - November) Winter (December - February)
Recommended target Family Couples Groups Infant & Toddler (ages 0-6) Child (ages 7-17) Adult (ages 20+) Single traveller

Map: Tofuku-ji Temple