Nanzen-ji Temple

Nanzen-ji Temple © Iry

About Nanzen-ji Temple

In 1291 Emperor Kameyama remodeled his private villa into a Zen temple and invited the priest Mukan Fumon to the initial temple opening. Following that, for about 15 years he maintained the temple. In 1334 it became the first temple of the Kyoto Gozan (5 most important Rinzai temples in Kyoto). It is said that samurai in particular were very devoted to this temple. The Hojo (priest’s chambers) is a national treasure, and was built out of the relocated old imperial palace. It consists of a small Hojo and a larger Hojo. In the small Hojo there are 40 fusuma sliding door paintings done by Kano Tanyu, called the Gunkozu. In the Hojo garden there is a dry landscape garden made by Enshu Kobori, and from the shape of the stones in the garden it is called The Leaping Tiger Garden. In addition the subtemple Konchi-in you will find Kobori Enshu’s teahouse Hasso-noseki, and at the Tenjuan there are two types of garden to enjoy, a traditional dry landscape garden as well as a strolling garden around a pond. There is also the Nanzenin Temple which includes a mausoleum to Emperor Kameyama.

The view from the Sanmon

The Sanmon is a nationally designated important cultural property of Japan, the original one at the time of the temple’s construction was lost in a fire, and the present one is a donation from Takatora Todo who was a military commander from the Warring States period (1467–1590) until the Edo era (1603–1868). The height is about 22m. The view as seen from the Sanmon is very famous, and Ishikawa Goemon, a very famous outlaw who is commonly depicted in Kabuki plays, is commonly depicted here at the Sanmon commenting on the view. The autumn leaves next to the Sanmon gate are beautiful. Admission fee is 500 yen.

The Suirokaku (Aqueduct)

Within the Nanzen-ji grounds there is an aqueduct that extends from Lake Biwa to Kyoto, called the Biwa-ko Sosui. It was built in 1888 and the granite and red brick archways are very beautiful. It is a total length of 93.2m, is 4m wide, and 9m high. The planner and designer was Sakuro Tanabe, and its antiquated appearance causes it to melt into the surroundings.


On the Subway Tozai Line go to Keage Station (蹴上駅) and it is a 10 minute walk from there.  By bus, get off at the Higashiten-no-cho or Nanzen-ji/Eikan-do stops and from either of those stops it is 10 minutes away on foot. Please note that from 12/1 to 2/28 that the closing time is shortened 30 minutes to 16:30.

Image Gallery: Nanzen-ji Temple

Description: Nanzen-ji Temple

Sights Nanzen-ji Temple (南禅寺)
Address Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
Phone / Fax Phone: 075-771-0365 / Fax: 075-771-6989
Duration 50Minutes
Business Hours Monday:08:40-17:00
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: Nanzen-ji Temple