Kenninji Temple is Kyoto's oldest zen temple and at the rear of the stone paved roads of Gion. This temple is considered to be one of the five most important zen temples in Kyoto. There are 7 main halls and representative of the thought that 7 halls are ideal for a buddhist temple. Kenninji temple was founded in 1202 by the monk Eisei, who is credited with introducing the practice of zen buddhism to Japan. The temple served as his founding abbot and he is also buried on the temple grounds. The temple was originally a place where different forms of buddhism were practiced, but under the direction of the 11th abbot it became a purely zen temple. Many famous Japanese buddhist monks have trained here, including the zen master Dogen who would found the Soto sect of zen buddhism later. The buildings on the temple grounds have been destroyed by fire and war a number of times, but rebuilt in the 13th and 16th centuries. There are many artifacts here that are registered as “Important National Cultural Properties” by the Japanese government. In addition to being the largest temple in Kyoto, there are wonderful places to explore on the temple grounds. There are three unique and beautiful gardens to see. The ○△□ (maru-sankaku-shikaku) garden can be loosely translated as the circle, triangle, square garden and is a recent addition being built in 2006. The garden is inspired by a work of calligraphy by Sengai, a monk of the rinzai sect of zen buddhism. The circle, triangle, and square are said to be able to represent any form in the universe of any object and therefore representations of origin. There is also a zen garden behind the main building where you can see beautiful maple trees and rocks representing the Buddha and two zen monks. The temple also holds a number of impressive pieces of art. You can see twin dragons painted on the temple ceilings, the gods of thunder and lighting on folding screens, and more.
Yamato Oji Dori Shijo sagaru Komatsu-cho, Higashiyama, Kyoto, Kyoto
March-October: 10:00 to 16:30
November-February: 10:00 to 16:00
Apr 19-20, June 4-5, irregular closing days
Adults 500yen, Middle and high school 300yen, Elementary school 200yen, Preschool chilren Free
A 7 minute walk from Keihan Gionshijo Station
A 10 minute walk from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station
A 20 minute bus ride from JR Kyoto Station, then a 5 minute walk from Higashiyama Yasui bus stop
※The written notice and information on this page are as of the date of publication. Please refer or confirm the latest information of each spot on individual introduced website.