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Nanzenji Temple

Art, elaborate gardens and a giant gate await at this temple that stands tall as one of the most important of its kind in the country.

Tourists gather at the Nanzenji Zen Buddhist temple nestled at the foot of the Higashiyama Mountains. It is known throughout Japan for its spiritual importance as the head of a branch of Rinzai Zen. The shrine, which is decorated by multicolored trees, is packed full of antique paintings and ornate gardens.

Gaze up at the 72-foot-high (22-meter) Sanmon Gate. From the balcony at the top of the gate, take vibrant photos of the green, orange and red foliage with a mountainous landscape beyond them. Marvel at the 124 sliding-door paintings from the Kano school of art. Many of the works portray tigers. Visit in the fall to make the most of the changing colors of the leaves.

Find yourself in the elegant Hojo Garden. It consists of rocks, small pebbles and sand. The Tsuiji Wall surrounding the grounds is made from mud. The particular arrangement of the stones is known as the “mother tiger and her cubs crossing a river.” Admire a charming waterfall from the tearoom. Check out the Lake Biwa aqueduct from the late 19th century within the temple’s grounds. Visit one of the complex’s 12 sub-temples, which include Nanzen-in, Konchi-in and Tenjuan.

Originally a retirement home for an emperor in the 13th century, the building was later converted into a Zen temple. There is a fee to enter the gardens and certain buildings, although the temple precincts are free. The complex is closed annually for the last few days of December.

Nanzenji Temple is located in the northeastern sector of the city. The nearest subway station is Keage, which is on the Tozai Line. It is only a few minutes away on foot. The Nanzenji-Eikando-michi bus stop is close. These transportation links can be accessed easily from Kyoto Station. Nearby sites include the Philosopher’s Walk, Konchi-in Temple and Okazaki Park.


Guide to Exploring around Nanzenji Temple


Lodging Near Nanzenji Temple

See all 3,088 properties near Nanzenji Temple
Kyoto Yura Hotel - MGallery

Kyoto Yura Hotel - MGallery

84 OHASHICHO, Kyoto
    4.5 out of 5.0
     
     

    Located in Higashiyama, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Nishiki Market and Chion-in Temple. Heian Shrine and Kyoto Imperial Palace are also within ...

    Kyoto Yura Hotel - MGalleryAU$215

    Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI

    Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI

      3.5 out of 5.0
       
       

      Located in Sakyo Ward, this ryokan is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Heian Shrine, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Kiyomizu Temple and Kyoto Imperial Palace. Sanjusangendo Temple ...

      Nanzenji sando KIKUSUIAU$1,095

      Kyoto Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo

      Kyoto Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo

        3.5 out of 5.0
         
         

        Located in Sakyo Ward, this luxury ryokan is steps away from Murin-an and Konchi-in Temple. Kyoto Municipal Zoo and Nanzenji Temple are also within 10 minutes. ...

        Kyoto Nanzenji Ryokan YachiyoAU$785

        The Westin Miyako Kyoto

        The Westin Miyako Kyoto

          4.0 out of 5.0
           
           

          Located in Higashiyama, this romantic hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Shoren-in Temple and Nanzenji Temple. Yasaka Shrine and Heian Shrine are also within ...

          The Westin Miyako KyotoAU$625

          The Nanzen-ji Club

          The Nanzen-ji Club

          Nanzenji-Fukuchi-cho 27,Sakyo-ku,KYOTO, Kyoto, Kyoto (prefecture)
            2.0 out of 5.0
             
             

            Located in Sakyo Ward, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Kyoto Municipal Zoo and Nanzenji Temple. Heian Shrine and Kyoto University are also within 1 ...

            Aoi Philosophers Path Villa

            Aoi Philosophers Path Villa

              3.5 out of 5.0
               
               

              Located in Sakyo Ward, this holiday home is within a 10-minute walk of Eikando Temple and Nanzenji Temple. Heian Shrine and Philosopher's Walk are also within ...

              Ryokan KANADE

              Ryokan KANADE

                4.0 out of 5.0
                 
                 

                Located in Sakyo Ward, this ryokan is within a 10-minute walk of Kyoto Municipal Zoo and Heian Shrine. Kyoto University and Nanzenji Temple are also within 1 ...

                Ryokan KANADEAU$175

                Guest House Keage

                Guest House Keage

                  2.0 out of 5.0
                   
                   

                  Located in Yamashina, this holiday home is within 1 mile (2 km) of Kyoto Municipal Zoo, Heian Shrine and Yasaka Shrine. Kyoto University and Kawaramachi are ...

                  *Price based on the lowest price found within past 24 hours and based upon one night stay for two adults over the next thirty days. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
                  ^Eligibility requirements and conditions apply.