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The best Zen gardens/Karesansui in Kyoto: Top 10

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#7 Tofukuji temple 東福寺

Hasso no Niwa 八相の庭

Only Hojo of Tofukuji has 4 gardens facing 4 direction. Hojo buildings in other temples usually has 2 or 3 gardens.  These 4 gardens tell us “Hasso Jodo”. Hasso Jodo is way to describe a life of Gautama Buddha in 8 aspects. These gardens were also designed by Shigemori Mirei.

東福寺井田市松東福寺さつき

The west and north gardens are not Karesansui gardens as you see. They have well-trimmed Satsuki shrubs.

The south garden 南庭

東福寺南庭東福寺南庭

We can see groupings of rocks. From left to right, Eiju(瀛洲), Horai(蓬莱), Koryo(壷梁), and Hojo(方丈). They are islands in which enlightened person live. Raked gravels are whirlpools and small hills are mountains.

The east garden 東庭

東福寺東庭

These pillars stands for the big dipper.

How to get to Tofukuji temple?

About 15 minutes walk from JR/Keihan Tofukuji station.

About Tofukuji temple

  • Phone 075-561-0087
  • Website Tofukuji official
  • Entrance fee:400 yen
  • Open hours: Apr. to Dec.  9:00~16:00 (Leave the temple by 16:30 )
    Nov.to mid Dec. 8:30~16:00 (Leave the temple by 16:30)
    Mid Dec. to Mar. 9:00~15:30 (Leave the temple by 16:00)
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#8 Kenninji  temple 建仁寺

Daiohen 大雄苑

建仁寺大雄苑建仁寺大雄苑

Daihoen garden is the largest one in Kenninji temple. Daiho is a name of a mountain. It is also called “Hyakujyozan.”  It was named after Hyakujo Zenji, a monk who founded a system of Zen school. The garden was designed by Ogawa Jihei Vll, a talented garden architect in modern days.

The rocks stand for Hyakujozan and other mountains and the peculiar big wave crosses the vast ocean.

Cirlce, triangle, and square garden 〇△□乃庭

建仁寺〇△□乃庭

We can find the same signs at the door of Shodenji temple. A moss island is circle, the line in the garden makes triangle, and the garden itself is square.

Cho on tei 潮音庭

建仁寺潮音庭

Cho on means that the truth comes to us as waves rush to shore. The garden has the same meaning of the second story of Kinkakuji temple. It was designed by Kitayama Yasuo, known as Kobori Enshu in Heisei era. The stones represents statues of Buddhas.

How to get to Kenninji temple?

About 10 minutes walk from Shijokawaramachi bus stop/Hankyu Kwaramachi station.

About 5 minutes walk from Gion bus stop/Keihan Gion Shijo station.

About Kenninji temple

  • Phone 075-561-6363
  • Website Kenninji official
  • Entrance fee:500円
  • Open hours: Mar. to Oct. 10:00~16:30(Leave the temple by 17:00)
    Nov. to Feb. 10:00~16:00(Leave the temple by16:30 )



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