If you go to Kyoto, you may want to explore Arashiyama District with its many landmarks and historical buildings. One of them is Tenryu-Ji Temple which is known as one of the greatest Zen temples in Kyoto. In fact, Tenryu-Ji Temple sits on the first rank and it is now included within the world’s heritage spot or site of UNESCO. Thanks to its long history and attractive features, it is pretty understandable why the place is attracting so many tourists and visitors.
The Long History
This is one of the temples dedicated to Buddha worship. The temple was originally founded to honour a deceased emperor by Ashikaga Takauji Shogun. Before the construction, Empress Tachibana no Kachiko (wife of Emperor Saga) created a Danrin-Ji temple. It is a Buddhist temple, situated on the same location (as the Tenryu-Ji current day). But in the middle of the 13th century, Emperor Gosaga and his son changed the temple to the imperial villa.
Later, Ashikaga Takauji changed the villa into a temple to commemorate Emperor Go-Daigo. They were previously allies but they became enemies and fought each other. To honour the emperor, Takauji finally built the temple that remains until today.
The main building and structures have undergone many things – damages, wreckages, and fires. Some of them have been destroyed but some are managed to save and restore. The garden, however, has managed to withstand the changes. From the time of the establishment to the present day, it hasn’t undergone much change.
The Interesting Features
The temple has many interesting features. One of which is the Hyakkaen Garden that is hugely (and often) visited during fall and spring. The square entrance or hanchi is another popular highlight because it is full of lotus flowers.
There are also 2 sub-temples there: Kogenji and Hogon-in which are open only in autumn and spring – they open for a few weeks. Hogon-in is most popular for the moss and rock stroll garden. It is also known for the fall colours that are stunning and naturally gorgeous. Meanwhile, Kogenji is known for the rock and stone (karesansui) garden located on the main building.
Besides those interesting spots, there are also other interesting spots to explore. Not to mention that they are important cultural properties of the past. You can find the portraits of Muso Soseki who was the first head priest of the temple. During his life, he created Sougenchi garden and pond which still remain until today. They are the oldest (landscape) gardens in the city. They are also well-known for the borrowed scenery effect. The man was also responsible for the creation of Moss Garden (Kokedera) on the southern area of Katsura.
You can also find Gautama Buddha wooden carving along with the many of his illustrations. If you come to Hatto Hall, you can see the so-called Cloud Dragon (Unryu) that is painted on the ceiling. Want to see some sword marks? Go to the main hall and check the pillars. There are sword marks from samurai training their swordsmanship – the period dated back to1860s.
There are different operational hours depending on the months. For instance, from March 21st to October 20th, the temple opens from 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM. From October 21st to March 20th, the temple opens from 8.30 AM to 5 PM.
If you only come to the temple grounds, it is free. If you come to Hyakkaen Garden and Sougenchi Pond, you will be charged ¥500 per adult and ¥300 for students. If you come to Shoin, Tahodo Halls, or Ohojo Garden, there will be an extra ¥300.
Reaching the Temple
Reaching the temple from Keifuku Arashiyama Station is easy and not far. You can use Saga-Arashiyama JR Station connected with Kyoto Station. It takes 10 minutes on foot and it costs ¥240.
If you want to visit Kyoto and this Tenryu-Ji Temple, be ready with the entire arrangement. For your flights, go to Airpaz and choose the available airlines like Japan Airlines or ANA All Nippon. Be sure to make the reservation.